In Texas, violence or perceived threats of violence against others are taken very seriously. When one hears of the crime “terroristic threat,” one may think about extremists who plot mass shootings or other horrific acts. However, there is a broad range of behaviors that meet the definition of terroristic threat. For example, one may be convicted of the crime of terroristic threat for placing someone in fear of imminent harm. A conviction for terroristic threat may be either a misdemeanor or felony charge. It is important to seek legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.
The state has the burden of proof in criminal claims
Criminal charges are generally brought by the state of Texas. Since the state files these charges, the state has the responsibility to provide evidence that shows the charges are appropriate. This is called the burden of proof. Criminal charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Basically, the state must prove that a jury could draw no other conclusion but that the defendant committed the crime.
An individual may be convicted for terroristic threat if he threatens some type of violence against another person or a property, intending to:
- Cause a reaction by an emergency agency;
- Cause another individual or the general public to experience fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
- Interfere with the use of public property, a place of employment, an aircraft, a motor vehicle, or similar places or methods of transportation;
- Interrupt public communications, public transit, or public utilities; or
- Influence a federal entity, a state entity, or other political entity within the state.
Penalties for terroristic threat
Depending on what individual or entity the threat was made against, the crime may be either a misdemeanor or a felony.
If the threat was intended to cause a reaction from an emergency agency, the crime is a class B misdemeanor. An offender may be sentenced to 180 days in jail and ordered to pay a fine of up to $2,000.
If the threat placed an individual in fear of harm, the crime is also a class B misdemeanor unless it was committed against a family member or public servant.
If the threat interferes with the use of public property, a place of employment, a motor vehicle, an aircraft, or similar, the crime is a class A misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. However, if the interference caused a pecuniary loss greater than $1,500, the crime is a state jail felony. Those convicted of jail felonies face between 180 days and 2 years in jail. In addition, a fine of up to $10,000 may be ordered.
Interfering with public communications, transit or utilities is a third degree felony. Third degree felonies are punishable by a prison sentence of between 2 and 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Placing a large group of the public in fear of imminent bodily harm is also a third degree felony.
Finally, influencing a state, federal, or other political agency is a third degree felony.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest is essential to protecting your legal rights throughout the case.
Schedule a free consultation today
Brian Eppes and Jeff Hampton of the Hampton Eppes Law Group are former prosecutors with valuable experience in the Texas criminal justice system. Mr. Eppes is a skilled negotiator and possesses excellent trial advocacy skills. To schedule a free consultation, call 817-877-5201 or visit www.hamptonlegalgroup.com today.