A terroristic threat is when someone threatens to commit a violent act with the aim to scare another person. This could be a bomb threat, a death threat, or even a threat to damage property. You could threaten to kill someone, seriously injure someone, or call in a bomb threat in a public place. In all of the scenarios, the intent is to instill fear in the recipient(s) of the threats.
This offense carries severe consequences. It is likely that at some point in your life, you have uttered threatening words in a moment of anger. However, being charged with terroristic threats requires more than just impulsive outbursts. The words spoken must instill and perpetuate fear in the victim in order to be classified as a terroristic threat. Terroristic threats are defined specifically in the Pennsylvania Code Title 18 § 2706:
A person commits the crime of terroristic threats if the person communicates, either directly or indirectly, a threat to:
- commit any crime of violence with intent to terrorize another;
- cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly or facility of public transportation or;
- otherwise cause serious public inconvenience or;
- cause terror or serious public inconvenience with reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience
Laws about terroristic threats are there for a reason – to protect people from harm. But in Pittsburgh, police and lawyers can sometimes use these laws broadly. This can lead to charges of making terroristic threats.
Forms of Threats
Terroristic threats can be anything from bomb threats, death threats, to threats aimed at damaging property. Various forms of communication like emails, voicemails, or text messages can be the channels for these threats.
Even if it is found that the defendant was completely incapable of ever carrying out the threat, he or she can still be charged with terroristic threats if the victim was in fear of being harmed.
It’s worth noting that words aren’t the only way to threaten – even ominous gestures with a weapon can also be considered as a terroristic threat. These threats, direct or indirect, are taken seriously in Pittsburgh, and the law enforcement agencies are quite broad in interpreting and applying the laws related to terroristic threats.
What Happens if You Get Charged for Making Terroristic Threats? Penalties For Terroristic Threat Charges
If you find yourself facing charges for making terroristic threats in Pittsburgh, you are dealing with a serious offense. The consequences of a conviction include significant fines, restitution to the victims, and imprisonment. The severity of the punishment often depends on the nature of the threat, the intended victim, and if any harm resulted from the act. The courts don’t take these charges lightly, and neither should you.
Misdemeanor Terroristic Threat Charge
Most of the time, a terroristic threats charge is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, the punishment includes:
- Up to five (5) years in jail
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Restitution and other fees, if it applies
Felony Terroristic Threat Charge
There is a scenario, however, where the charge will constitute a felony of the third degree. A felony of the third degree is a threat that causes the occupants of the building, place of assembly or, facility of public transportation, to be diverted from their normal or customary operations. If you are found guilty of a felony of the third degree, the punishment includes:
- Up to seven (7) years in jail
- Up to $15,000 in fines
- Restitution and other fees, if it applies
Restitution for Terror Threats
Restitution can be extremely costly and involves repayment equal to the cost of the evacuation. Fines include but are not limited to fire and police response, emergency medical service or emergency preparedness response, and transportation of an individual from the building, place of assembly or facility. While these actions may seem minor, costs add up quickly.
You may also be subject to civil liabilities for the crime as well, thus further complicating an already difficult situation. We know that the penalties for a terroristic threat charge look daunting, but SMT Legal can help.
How SMT Legal Can Assist You in Resolving Terroristic Threat Charges
If you are faced with charges of making terroristic threats, it is critical not to underestimate the gravity of the situation. At SMT Legal, our Pittsburgh criminal defense attorneys comprehend the profound impact that charges of terroristic threats can have on your life. You can rely on our attorneys to fight aggressively for your rights, regardless of the severity of your charge.