The crime of terroristic threats is one of the most frequently prosecuted offenses in Pennsylvania and can cover a wide range of conduct. Examples of behaviors that can result in the police charging you with this crime include arguments that expand into threats of violence, bar fights, road rage incidents, and neighbor disputes. Other common examples include violent threats made through social media, phone calls, text messages, or e-mail. As a result, hiring an experienced PA terroristic threats defense lawyer is crucial once the police charge you with this crime.
Why You Need an Aggressive Criminal Defense Lawyer
A Pennsylvania terroristic threats charge can be graded as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. In addition, the penalties for making a terroristic threat include jail time, substantial court costs, and permanent damage to your reputation and standing in the community.
Furthermore, the impact of a conviction for terroristic threats can be even more devastating for a young adult. A terroristic threat charge may disqualify a young adult from pre-trial diversion and 1st-time offender programs that would enable the juvenile to get the criminal case expunged from their record.
An Arrest or Conviction Can Destroy Your Future
Unfortunately, a conviction or adjudication of delinquency for the crime of terroristic threats may indicate to others that you have committed a crime related to terrorism. Others may conclude you have difficulty controlling your anger.
In addition, employers and college admissions officers may be reluctant to extend employment or acceptance offers to individuals convicted of the crime of terroristic threats.
You May Have Difficulty Finding Employment After a Terroristic Threats Conviction
A conviction for terroristic threats may make it difficult for you to pass a background check, receive professional licensing or certification, travel abroad, or lawfully possess a firearm. All local police departments and the Pennsylvania State Police aggressively prosecute terroristic threats crimes.
PA Terroristic Threats Defense Attorney
I have defended people in over 300 terroristic threats cases in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, and the surrounding Pennsylvania Counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
What is a Terroristic Threat in PA?
According to Pennsylvania law, a person commits a terroristic threat if that person communicates, either directly or indirectly, a threat to:
- Commit any crime of violence with intent to terrorize another; or
- Cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation; or
- Otherwise, cause serious public inconvenience, cause terror or serious public inconvenience with reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience
What are the Elements of the Crime?
Under Pennsylvania law, the district attorney must prove both of the following elements to prove the crime of terroristic threats:
- A person threatened to commit a crime of violence; and
- The person communicated the threat with the intent to terrorize another person
The prosecutor is not required to prove that the accused had the actual ability to carry out the threat. Furthermore, the district attorney does not need to establish that the intended victim believed the offender would carry out the alleged threat.
What are Common Examples of Terroristic Threats?
The police consider a broad range of conduct as sufficient to constitute a terroristic threat, including any of the following:
- Communicating a bomb threat
- Pointing a gun at another person
- Threatening to murder another person
- Threatening to kill another person
- Threatening to assault another person
Is Terroristic Threats a Felony in PA?
Terroristic threats can be a felony in Pennsylvania under certain circumstances. Under the statute, terroristic threats can be a misdemeanor or a felony based on the following:
- Misdemeanor of the first degree if the threat is against a person or persons
- Felony of the third degree if the threat causes evacuation or disruption of a place of assembly, facility, or public transportation
The police file the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania terroristic threats cases as misdemeanors of the first degree. It is rare for the police to file terroristic threats charges related to actual domestic terrorism.
How Serious is a Terroristic Threat?
A Pennsylvania terroristic threats charge is among the highest graded offenses in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. The following are the Pennsylvania terroristic threats penalties:
- Misdemeanor of the first degree
- Up to 5 years in state prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Felony of the third degree
- Up to 7 years in state prison
- Up to $15,000 in fines
Can my License be Suspended if I am Convicted of Terroristic Threats?
Yes. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will suspend the driving privileges of any adult or juvenile convicted or adjudicated delinquent of the crime of terroristic threats on any school property or during any school-sponsored event. The period of suspension will be applied as follows:
- 1st offense 6-month driver’s license suspension
- 2nd offense 1-year driver’s license suspension
- 3rd offense 2-year driver’s license suspension
How To Get Terroristic Threat Charges Dropped
To achieve a successful outcome in a terroristic threats case, I thoroughly examine all evidence, including a complete analysis of all possible legal defenses. Importantly, it is critical to meet with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney to discuss the case’s facts and begin preparing an aggressive defense.
In some cases, the judge will drop the terroristic threats charge because the alleged threat or statement does not meet the legal definition of a terroristic threat. In other cases, the prosecutor will dismiss the case because I can prove that the accused did not communicate the threat directly to the alleged victim.
Prove the Accuser is Lying About the Alleged Terroristic Threat
Unfortunately, many people falsely claim to the police that they were the victim of a terroristic threat. Also, many individuals will have a hidden motivation to falsely accuse a stranger, domestic partner, spouse, or neighbor of a criminal threat of violence. In many cases, I have established that the accuser lied about the alleged terroristic threat through vigorous cross-examination.
I can also demonstrate that the complainant may have given inconsistent versions of the incident to the police, emergency dispatch, or family members and friends. In other cases, I have shown that the accuser fabricated the accusation because they wanted the defendant to go to jail or have a permanent criminal record.
Is Transitory Anger a Defense?
Yes. Transitory anger is one of the most common and effective defenses to the crime of terroristic threats. Furthermore, there are many cases in which the individual charged with making a terroristic threat made the alleged threat in the heat of the moment due to “transitory anger.” Importantly, transitory anger is one of the most effective defenses to the charge of terroristic threats.
Transitory anger occurs when a person loses their temper due to an argument or other stressful circumstances. Unfortunately, this type of spur-of-the-moment anger is common and can occur among the calmest and level-headed people. I have successfully used the transitory anger defense in terroristic threats cases.
How Do I Know If I Have a Transitory Anger Defense to Terroristic Threats?
Some or all of the following factors can create a complete defense to the charge of terroristic threats:
- The alleged victim provoked the incident
- The accused made a single threat
- The accused made the threat during an unexpected, chance encounter
- The accused made the threat during a period of momentary anger
- The accused did not make threats of future violence
Can My Terroristic Threats Case be Reduced to a Lower Charge?
Yes. Post-arrest completion of anger management treatment or other psychological counseling will often lower the charges. As an experienced PA terroristic threats defense attorney, I will review the evidence in your case and negotiate with the district attorney to lower the punishment in your case. In many cases, the district attorney will agree to a reduced charge or a favorable sentencing recommendation.
Contact a Bucks County Terroristic Threats Defense Lawyer
Have the police charged you with terroristic threats based on false allegations or insufficient evidence? Contact me if the police have filed charges against you in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Delaware County, or surrounding Pennsylvania Counties. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.