Whether it was the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, or the shootings of police officers in Dallas on July 7, 2016, law enforcement throughout the Lone Star State takes alleged terroristic threats very seriously. While many people have preconceived ideas of what terrorists look like, the people who have actually been charged with making terroristic threats in Texas can be fairly surprising.
In some cases, juveniles have been accused of making terroristic threats for statements that were largely taken out of context. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution does not protect speech inciting or producing imminent lawless action, but it can be difficult for prosecutors to prove that alleged offenders had the necessary criminal intent to be convicted of making terroristic threats.
Lawyer for Terroristic Threats Arrests in Dallas, TX
Were you or your loved one arrested in North Texas for allegedly making terroristic threats? You should avoid saying anything to authorities until you have legal representation. Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can fight to possibly get these criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Richard McConathy and Brian Bolton are experienced criminal defense attorneys in Dallas who represent clients all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including Grand Prairie, Irving, Garland, Balch Springs, Richardson, Carrolton, Mesquite, and many other surrounding communities. You can have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (972) 233-5700 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Overview of Terroristic Threats in Texas
- How does state law define terroristic threats?
- When can alleged offenders face federal charges for terroristic threats?
- Where can I find more information about terroristic threats in Dallas-Fort Worth?
Under Texas Penal Code § 22.07, the grading of a terroristic threat offense depends on the specific types of alleged activity involved. An alleged offender can face the following charges if he or she threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property:
- Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000 if an alleged offender threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies or place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
- Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000 if an alleged offender threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to place a public servant or a member of the alleged offender’s family or household (or any other person constituting family violence) in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other forms of conveyance, or other public places;
- State jail felony punishable by up to two years in state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if an alleged offender threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other forms of conveyance, or other public place causing pecuniary loss of $1,500 or more to the owner of the building, room, place, or conveyance; or
- Third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if an alleged offender threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public services; place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.
Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries may be federally prosecuted under 18 U.S. Code § 2332b when an alleged offender threatens, attempts, or conspires to kill, kidnap, maim, commit an assault resulting in serious bodily injury, or assault with a dangerous weapon any person within the United States; or create a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to any other person by destroying or damaging any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States or by attempting or conspiring to destroy or damage any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property within the United States.
Applicable circumstances for the prosecution of these alleged offenses include those involving any of the following:
- The mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce is used in furtherance of the offense;
- The offense obstructs, delays, or affects interstate or foreign commerce, or would have so obstructed, delayed, or affected interstate or foreign commerce if the offense had been consummated;
- The victim, or intended victim, is the United States government, a member of the uniformed services, or any official, officer, employee, or agent of the legislative, executive, or judicial branches, or of any department or agency, of the united states;
- The structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property is, in whole or in part, owned, possessed, or leased to the United States, or any department or agency of the united states;
- The offense is committed in the territorial sea (including the airspace above and the seabed and subsoil below, and artificial islands and fixed structures erected thereon) of the united states; or
- The offense is committed within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
Penalties for convictions in these federal cases depend on the ultimate outcome of the alleged act of terrorism. Threatening to commit an offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, attempting or conspiring to commit an offense is punishable by any term of years up to the maximum punishment that would have applied had the offense been completed, destroying or damaging any structure, conveyance, or other real or personal property is punishable by up to 25 years in prison, and killing or any death resulting from the commission of an offense is punishable by up to life in prison.
Terroristic threats up in Texas schools | Dallas Morning News — On December 2, 2015, the Dallas Morning News reported that information maintained by the Texas Education Agency showed terroristic threats had increased every year since 2009-10 school year in Texas. That same day, an eighth-grade student had been arrested for an online terroristic threat against T.W. Browne Middle School. Dallas Independent School District (ISD) Police Chief Craig Miller told the Morning News that “the student’s sole purpose for threatening violence at the school was to increase her Instagram followers.”
Bryant v. State, 905 S.W.2d 457 (Tex. App. 1995) — On August 31, 1995, the Tenth Court of Appeals issued its decision in this case, reversing the conviction of David Bryant for allegedly making a terroristic threat. The State had charged Bryant with two counts of making terroristic threats, but the jury acquitted Bryant under count one and convicted him under count two. The Court of Appeals, however, concluded:
Considering the evidence in light of count two, a rational jury could find that (1) Bryant intentionally threatened to commit an offense involving violence to Raulston, (2) by stating to Raulston that if he did not grade the road in front of Bryant’s house that “he was going to kick [Raulston’s] god damn ass.” Raulston’s testimony, and that of his road crew, is sufficient to establish the first two elements charged. The evidence is insufficient, however, to prove the third element — i.e., that Bryant acted with the specific intent to place Raulston in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. There is no evidence that he accompanied the conditional threat embodied in the second element — either you blade my road or I am “going to kick [your] god damn ass” — with a threat of serious bodily injury to be inflicted imminently. The jury could infer Bryant’s intent from his acts, words or conduct. See Dues, 634 S.W.2d at 305. Based on the evidence before it, when considered in the light of the charge in count two, no rational jury could infer or find from Bryant’s acts, words or conduct that he intended Raulston to believe that he would inflict the harmful consequences connected to Raulston’s non-performance of a future act — the grading of Bryant’s road — at the scene of their confrontation. In other words, there is no evidence that he had the specific intent to place Raulston in fear at that time. Raulston readily admitted that the harmful consequences threatened by Bryant were connected to and conditioned on the non-occurrence of a future event.
Find a Dallas Terroristic Threats Lawyer | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you believe that you or your loved one are being investigated or you were already arrested for allegedly making a terroristic threat in North Texas, it will be in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can help determine all of your possible defenses and fight to achieve the most favorable outcome to your case.
Our Dallas criminal defense attorneys represent clients all over Tarrant County, Collin County, Dallas County, and Denton County. Call (972) 233-5700 or fill out an online contact form today to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation that will let our lawyers review your case.