New Jersey Terroristic Threats Lawyer
Experienced Defense Lawyer Committed to Building an Aggressive Defense for Clients Accused of Making Terroristic Threats in Essex County, Union County, Morris County, Middlesex County, Bergen County and Somerset County, NJ
Once an obscure criminal offense, in today’s environment terroristic threats is a crime that is frequently alleged and punished for a number of reasons. A “mere threat” of a bombing can cause thousands to evacuate and fear for their safety, and most would understand why such a threat would result in criminal charges. Despite this, the crime of terroristic threats applies to a much broader array of situations involving verbal threats and can impact you unexpectedly—stemming from an alcohol-fueled bar argument, a domestic dispute or even a roadside flare-up after a minor car accident.
Some clients mistakenly believe that terroristic threats charges are not as serious as many other types of criminal offenses because the crime only involves the threat of an action, rather than the action itself. This is a mistake because of potentially harsh penalties that may apply upon conviction for terroristic threats—if your crime is prosecuted as a third-degree crime, as many are, you will face three to five years in state prison. If the charge is elevated to a second-degree offense, you can go to jail for up to ten years and face up to $150,000 in fines.
At Zegas Law, we have experience handling terroristic threats cases at every level and are here to help you understand the potential consequences of conviction as well as formulate a strong and effective defense in your case. If you have been accused of a crime involving terroristic threats in North Jersey, let our skilled criminal defense team put our expertise to work for you.
Legal Basis for Terroristic Threats Crimes in Northern New Jersey
To prosecute a case alleging terroristic threats as a third-degree offense, it is necessary for the prosecution to show that you threatened to commit any act of violence with the intent of:
- Terrorizing another person,
- Causing evacuation of a building, other public place, public transportation facility or to otherwise cause serious public inconvenience, or
- Recklessly disregarding the risk of causing the terror or inconvenience.
- Threatening to kill another person is also a terroristic threat, punishable as a third-degree crime, if the threat is made with the purpose of putting the other person in fear of his or her imminent safety under circumstances that make it reasonable for the victim to believe the threat will be carried out.
The criminal act of a terroristic threat is elevated to a second-degree crime if the threat occurred during a period where a national, state or county emergency had been declared, regardless of whether you knew about the state of emergency—and a strict liability standard applies in these cases.
To convict the defendant on terroristic threats charges, the person must have reasonably believed that the threat would be carried out, but it is not strictly necessary that the defendant threatened violence against that person. For example, threatening to harm the victim’s loved one or severely damage the person’s property could give rise to a valid terroristic threats case.
Skilled Defense Lawyers Challenge Legal Basis for Terroristic Threats Charges
At Zegas Law, we have the legal knowledge necessary to successfully challenge a terroristic threats charge that has been levied against you. In many cases, we can challenge the prosecution’s ability to prove the “intent” element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt—regardless of what you said, you must have said it for the purpose of terrorizing someone else, or with reckless disregard for the fact that the threat may have caused the person to feel terrorized.
Although the threat may be made verbally or in writing, in many cases these threats are verbal and made in the heat of the moment. This provides a skilled lawyer with ample opportunity to challenge any number of factors in your case—including the credibility of witnesses, the actual statements that you made and whether you intended to cause any terrorizing harm.
Our Hard-Hitting Criminal Defense Lawyers Are Standing by to Discuss Your Terroristic Threats Charges Today
Terroristic threats cases are often complicated by the “he said/she said” nature of the case—unless the threats are written, it can be very difficult for the prosecution to establish a case that is strong enough to support conviction. Our experienced Morris County terroristic threats defense lawyers are here to craft a skilled and compelling defense in your case, so call or contact our office today to see how we can help.
Frequently Asked Questions About North Jersey Terroristic Threats Claims
FAQ: How can I be prosecuted for a crime when all I did was speak? If I didn’t actually carry the threat out, shouldn’t the first amendment protect my right to speak?
The first amendment does not protect all speech. Namely, the first amendment does not give you the right to speak to another person with the intent of causing that person terror. The terroristic threats crime stands because of that intent element, and also because the law requires that the threats must be believable based upon a reasonable person standard. Essentially, the law is a balancing act between your first amendment rights and the right of others to be free from feeling terrorized.
FAQ: If the prosecution has a strong case, is there anything that can be done to reduce my risk of conviction in a terroristic threats case?
When a terroristic threats case is prosecuted as a third-degree crime and you have no prior criminal history, it may be possible to argue that your case should be directed into the New Jersey pre-trial intervention program. Upon completion of a period of supervised probation, your case can be dismissed without conviction. Despite this, admission to this diversionary program is discretionary on the part of the judge, making it important to retain an experienced lawyer to argue on your behalf, especially if the prosecution objects in your case.