You’ve been charged with terroristic threats? It’s a charge you can’t live with on your record. The label itself will make it nearly impossible for you to find a job. Here’s what terroristic threats means under Minnesota law:
The Minnesota terroristic threats statute states that:
Here’s what some of those terms mean:
- Crime of Violence: a violation of or an attempt or conspiracy to commit an act that could result in substantial bodily harm to another. Crimes of violence typically result in death, broken bones, loss of consciousness or stitches.
For example: one person yells at another, “I’ve had enough, come outside and I’ll slit your throat.” At this point it does not matter what started the argument. All that matter is that the threat- to slit one’s throat- could result in great or substantial bodily harm to another.
- Terrorize: to cause extreme fear by use of violence of threats. Threats are context specific. Thus, a person might lack the specific intent to threaten or terrorize but the utterance may be objectively threatening. In such a case, the individual may be charged under this statute.
For example: a moviegoer walks into a crowded theater and tells fellow moviegoers that there is a bomb inside the theater, causing a panic. Even if no bomb is present, the individual can be charged with the intent to terrorize.
- Incendiary Device: means a device that is ignited by fire, friction, concussion, detonation, or other method that may produce destructive effects primarily through combustion. However, this does not include firearm ammunition; rather, it includes devices that are made for illumination, heating or cooking.
For example: in the crudest form an incendiary device could be a Molotov cocktail. Courts have also interpreted the term to mean any material or object wrapped or soaked in lighter fluid.
What are the PENALTIES?
- If it is found that you threatened violence or intended to terrorize an individual you face a maximum prison sentence of 5 years or a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.
- If you are found to have communicated your plan to terrorize someone you face 3 years imprisonment or a maximum fine of $3,000, or both.
- If it is found that you displayed or brandished a weapon in a threatening manner you face a prison sentence of not more than 366 days or a fine of not more than $3,000, or both.
A conviction for terroristic threats is a felony. As a result, several bad things happen: you will have a felony record, lose your ability to vote, lose the ability to possess firearms, may not be able to live in some apartments, potential loss of a professional license and potential disqualifications from certain jobs. Additionally, a conviction under this statute will not allow you to volunteer at things like school functions, coaching youth sports, cub scouts/girl scouts, etc.
What are some potential defenses to a terroristic threat charge?
- Lack of intent
- Context of the conversation
- Affect on alleged victim
- It never happened
It is crucial that your defense attorney understand the finer points of this statute. The context of the spoken words, affect on the alleged victim and relationship between the parties are three factors that courts emphasize in determining whether or not you have a defense to a terroristic threats charge. Thus, it is vital that your attorney conduct a thorough and detailed investigation of the circumstances that gave rise to your charge.
How have courts interpreted this statute?
State v. Murphy (545 N.W.2d 909): Here, the court found that leaving dead animal parts on the alleged victims’ property constituted “threats to commit future acts of physical violence.” The court reasoned that the defendant’s actions conveyed a message to injure, kill, or commit future crimes against the victim.
State v. Marchand (410 N.W.2d 912): In this case the Minnesota Court of Appeals found sufficient evidence to convict the defendant under the terroristic threats statute for making remarks to cause the victim to fear that his car would be towed in the future.
In re Welfare of C.P.K (615 N.W.2d 832): It was found that wrapping a wooden cross in a cloth soaked flammable liquid constituted an incendiary device under the terroristic threats statute.
What should I do if I have been charged with terroristic threats?
Feel free to set up a free consultation with me. Ryan Pacyga Criminal Defense understands the finer points of these cases and we know how to present defenses on your behalf. Ryan Pacyga Criminal Defense has had success getting numerous terroristic threat charges DISMISSED. Call Ryan Pacyga at 612-474-5420 or visit my website at www.arrestedmn.com
- You threatened, directly or indirectly, to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another or to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, vehicle or facility of public transportation or otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience, or in a reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience;
- You communicated to another, with the purpose to terrorize another or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror, that explosives or an explosive device or any incendiary device is present at a named place or location, whether or not the same is in fact present; or
- You displayed, exhibited, brandished, or otherwise used a replica firearm or a BB gun in a threatening manner.