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.
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. 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 or removed from their record.
Adverse Consequences of a Terroristic Threats Conviction
Unfortunately, a conviction or adjudication of delinquency for the crime of terroristic threats may indicate to others that domestic terrorism had been committed as part of the crime. 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 even if the offense did not involve terrorism as the term is commonly understood.
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 aggressively prosecutes terroristic threats crimes. It is critical to have a knowledgeable Bucks County criminal defense attorney on your side if you or a family member is facing charges for terroristic threats.
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 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.
Definition of Terroristic Threats
Under 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 2706, an individual commits the crime of terroristic threats if he or she 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
Grading of Terroristic Threats Charge
An offense under this statute is graded as a 1st degree misdemeanor unless the threat causes the occupant of the building, place of assembly or facility of public transportation to be diverted from their normal or customary operations, in which case the offense is graded as a 3rd degree felony.
Penalties for 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
Under 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 2706(b), the sentencing judge may order an individual convicted of terroristic threats to pay restitution for evacuation-related costs, including costs for fire, rescue, police, medical and other emergency services employed in response to the threat. The restitution amount is in addition to any sentence of imprisonment, probation, court costs and fines that may be imposed by the sentencing judge.
Elements of Terroristic Threats Crime
The crime of terroristic threats requires both a threat to commit a crime of violence and evidence that the threat was communicated with the intent to terrorize. To gain a conviction, it is not necessary that the prosecutor prove that the accused had the actual ability to carry out the threat or that the intended victim believed that the threat would be carried out.
Common Examples of Terroristic Threats
Prosecutors and police will consider a very broad range of conduct as sufficient to establish a terroristic threat. Terroristic threats commonly include a threat to commit a particular act of violence and can include:
- Communicating a bomb threat
- Pointing a gun at someone
- Threats to commit the murder of another
- Threats to commit mass murder
Terroristic Threats Defense
I will thoroughly review the facts and circumstances of your case to develop the most effective defense strategy. 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.” This type of spur-of-the-moment anger is common and can occur among even the most level-headed of people. Proving that a threat was made due to transitory or temporary anger is often a successful trial defense to the charge of terroristic threats.
Terroristic Threats Made on Social Media
Vulgar or coarse language posted on Facebook or other social media platforms is also generally insufficient to be considered a terroristic threat under Pennsylvania law. Post-arrest completion of anger management treatment or other psychological counseling can result in a reduction of the charges in some cases. I can review the evidence in your case to determine whether any legal defenses exist or whether your case may resolve through a plea agreement or other resolution short of trial.
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 initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.