As a direct result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, every state as well as the federal government passed laws designating it a crime to “make a terroristic threat.”
The exact definition varies from state to state, but in general, a terroristic threat is made when a person threatens to commit a crime that would reasonably result in death, terror, serious injury, or serious physical property damage. While you may not see yourself as a terrorist, be aware that careless expressions of anger or rage can qualify as a terroristic threat and that enforcement has more often been used to prosecute domestic violence, hate crimes, school violence and bomb threats than actual terrorists.
If you are under investigation for this crime or are already facing charges, it is important to discuss your situation with a skilled Kentucky defense lawyer. Based in Lexington, criminal defense attorney Dan Carman represents clients facing terroristic threat charges at the federal level and throughout the state, in communities such as Fayette County, Winchester, Georgetown, and Nicholasville. Dan is dedicated to helping those who find themselves struggling with serious criminal accusations and provides competent legal representation to ensure that you get the best possible result under the circumstances of your case.
Kentucky Terroristic Threatening Laws
Typically, the laws on terroristic threatening have a few common elements:
- Threats. A person must make a threat, in writing, orally or electronically, to commit a crime that will result in death or great bodily harm.
- Specific Intent. The threat must specifically threaten death, serious injury or serious property damage now or in the future.
- Reasonability. A reasonable person must be able to conclude that the threat is credible.
Terroristic Threatening in the 1st Degree
Terroristic threatening in Kentucky can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. The most serious charge of terroristic threatening in the first degree occurs if a person makes false statements as to the placement of a weapon of mass destruction on certain school or government properties, or intentionally and without lawful authority places a counterfeit weapon of mass destruction at any location or on any object of the select properties.
Terroristic Threatening in the 2nd Degree
Terroristic threatening in the second degree is similar to the first degree except it encompasses locations other than the school and government properties listed. It also dictates that terroristic threatening in the second degree occurs when, with respect to a school function, someone intentionally threatens to commit an act likely to result in death or serious physical injury to those people who are reasonably expected to lawfully be on school property or at a school-sanctioned activity, if the threat is related to their employment by a school, or work or attendance at school, or a school function.
Terroristic Threatening in the 3rd Degree
The least serious terroristic threatening charge of terroristic threatening in the third degree happens if a person threatens to commit any crime likely to result in death or serious physical injury to another person, or likely to result in substantial property damage to another person. It also covers making a public threat by designating it an offense for a person to intentionally make false statements for the purpose of causing evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation.
How Long Are the Sentences?
- First degree terroristic threatening carries a potential sentence of 5 to 10 years in prison.
- Second degree terroristic threatening carries a potential sentence of 1 to 5 years in prison.
- Third degree terroristic threatening carries a potential sentence of 3 to 12 months in jail.
- In addition to prison terms, people who are convicted may be sentenced to pay a fine.
Defense of Terroristic Threatening Charges
While it has never been a good idea for a student to call in a bomb threat in order to get out of taking a math test, in post 9/11 America, what was once seen as a prank is now viewed as a crime – and it’s not taken lightly. Nevertheless, terroristic threat arrests and indictments are often very defensible. A knowledgeable and well prepared attorney can be invaluable, because such cases are very fact sensitive.
Important Elements of a Terroristic Threat Defense
- An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you by proving that the perceived threat was vague, not immediate, conditional or ambiguous.
- Another possibility is that the person who was threatened did not actually feel fear as a result of the threat or that the fear they claim was unreasonable.
- If the threat was never conveyed orally, in writing, or by electronic communication, it does not qualify as a criminal threat.
- There are even some cases where the threats may be protected as free speech, such as when a member of the public has an emotional outburst at a public meeting.
Contact a KY Terroristic Threat Defense Lawyer Today
There can be significant complexities to the charges, legalities and defenses involved in terroristic threat cases. If you have been arrested, charged or indicted for this crime, it is crucial that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can begin developing a strategy for your case. Attorney Dan Carman of the Carman Law Firm has wide-ranging experience from when he served in the United States Marine Corps as defense counsel, prosecutor, legal assistance attorney, and in-house counsel for an infantry battalion. He personally handles the cases of each client and has the knowledge and skill to build a strong defense on your behalf, such as questioning when you formed the required intent or securing reduced charges. If you are facing allegations of terroristic threatening, let us help. Call our offices today at 859-685-1055 or fill out our online inquiry form.