How Does the Law Define Terroristic Threats?

Any sort of verbal or written threat to commit an act meant to terrorize another party is defined as a terroristic threat by most state and federal jurisdictions. In many cases, the terroristic threat is assumed to be paired with the threat of a violent crime, such as assault or murder. Terroristic threat charges can also be filed against someone who acts in a way causing reasonable people to attempt to evacuate an area, or in a manner that results in a significant public inconvenience, like causing the shutdown of a major highway.

These charges are not limited to threatening individuals or groups of people. Simply threatening the well-being of property can be enough to trigger a terroristic threat charge if that threat can be perceived as intended to terrorize.

Lastly, a terroristic threat does not have to be highly specific; simply promising violence or mayhem, without listing when or where these planned events will unfold, is enough for the state or federal government to file charges. In State v. Tucker, Nebraska found that “A defendant does not have to actually commit a crime of violence, because it is the threat of violence which is at the heart of the crime of terroristic threats.”

Steep Penalties for Terroristic Threat Crimes

Nebraska Statute 28-311.01 defines Terroristic Threats as a Class IIIA Felony. Whether a terroristic threat is charged as a federal crime or a state crime is highly dependent on the specifics of the case. Some terroristic threat charges could potentially be argued down to less serious criminal violations, such as assault, by an experienced criminal defense attorney. However, prosecutors will give little leeway to people accused of terrorism and will likely push for the harshest penalties available.

Punishments that can be used against a person convicted of making terroristic threats could be:

  • Lengthy incarceration, including life imprisonment for certain threats
  • Heavy fines that may range well into tens of thousands of dollars
  • Additional restitution paid to victims of the threat

Defense in Terrorist Threat Cases

When a person is accused of making a terroristic threat, it is likely to catch the attention of the federal government, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The involvement of this agency will place near-limitless resources behind the prosecution and investigators. In order to compete with such a force, the defendant may need to rely on a trustworthy and highly experienced team of criminal defense attorneys who understand how much is on the line.

Berry Law is comprised of acclaimed criminal defense attorneys, including those who hold a 10.0 “Superb” Avvo rating, those with AV Preeminent® Ratings from Martindale-Hubbell®, and even Super Lawyers® members. People accused of making terroristic threats can call Berry Law at 402.817.6550 and request a consultationwith its award-winning team of defense lawyers.

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