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 terroristic threats charges include bar fights, road rage incidents, neighbor disputes and threats made through social media, phone calls, text message or e-mail. As a result, it is crucial to hire an experienced PA terroristic threats defense attorney once you are charged with this offense.
PA Terroristic Threats Penalties
A conviction for terroristic threats in Pennsylvania can be graded as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of the case. Penalties can include jail time, significant 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 charge to be expunged and removed from their record.
Why a Terroristic Threats Conviction Can Damage Your Future
Unfortunately, a conviction or adjudication of delinquency for the crime of terroristic threats may indicate to others that you have been involved in a crime related to terrorism. At a minimum, others may conclude that you have difficulty controlling your anger. In addition, employers and college and post-graduate admissions officers may be reluctant to extend employment or admissions offers to individuals convicted or adjudicated delinquent for this type of offense.
A Terroristic Threats Conviction May Make it Difficult to Find Employment
In addition to the other severe consequences, a conviction for terroristic threats may make it difficult for an individual to pass a background check, receive professional licensing or certification, travel abroad or lawfully possess a firearm. The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police and other Montgomery County District Attorney aggressively prosecute terroristic threats crimes.
PA Terroristic Threats Defense Lawyer
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to individuals charged with terroristic threats in Bucks County, Montgomery 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.
How Does Pennsylvania Define a Terroristic Threat?
Under 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 2706, an individual commits the crime of terroristic threats 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 a PA Terroristic Threats Crime?
Under Pennsylvania law, the crime of terroristic threats requires:
- A threat to commit a crime of violence; and
- The threat is communicated with the intent to terrorize another person
However, the prosecutor is not required to prove that the accused had the actual ability to carry out the threat. Furthermore, the intended victim is not required to believe that the threat would be carried out.
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
How is a Terroristic Threats Charge Graded?
- 1st degree misdemeanor; or
- 3rd degree felony if the threat causes evacuation or disruption of a place of assembly, facility or public transportation
The overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania terroristic threats cases are filed as 1st degree misdemeanors.
Penalties for PA Terroristic Threats
- 1st degree misdemeanor
- Up to 5 years in state prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- 3rd degree felony
- Up to 7 years in state prison
- Up to $15,000 in fines
Can my License be Suspended for a Terroristic Threats Conviction?
Yes. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will suspend the driving privileges of any adult or juvenile who is 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
PA Terroristic Threats Defense
A successful defense of a terroristic threats case requires a thorough examination of all of the evidence in the case as well as consideration of all possible legal defenses. In some cases, the alleged threat or statement does not meet the legal definition for a terroristic threat under existing Pennsylvania law. Alternatively, proving that the threat was not communicated directly to the victim is also a defense to a Pennsylvania terroristic threats charge.
Is Transitory Anger a Defense to Terroristic Threats?
Yes. Transitory anger is one of the most common and effective defenses to the crime of terroristic threats. 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.” 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. This type of spur-of-the-moment anger is common and can occur among the most calm and level-headed people. I am extremely experienced in successfully using the transitory anger defense in terroristic threats cases.
Factors Supporting 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 incident was provoked by the alleged victim
- 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 a Terroristic Threats Charge be Reduced?
Yes. Post-arrest completion of anger management treatment or other psychological counseling may result in a reduction of the charges in some cases. As an experienced PA terroristic threats defense attorney, I can review the evidence in your case to determine whether your case may be resolved through a favorable plea agreement.
Start with a Strong Defense
If you have been charged with terroristic threats in Bucks County, Montgomery County or the surrounding counties, it is critical to act quickly to protect your rights and build the strongest possible defense against the charges. 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.