Posts Categorized Terroristic Threats

Terroristic threats: The Catchall Felony

“Touch me again, and I’m gonna knock you out.”  We’re Americans. We live in a society and in a culture that is no stranger to confrontation. The fact is we love fighting. We love to watch smack talk in sports. We love to see a baseball or football coach take an umpire or referee to task, spitting and yelling with the glare of rage in their eyes. We love watching guys in a movie engage in macho banter back and forth, and this aids in character development. Even our political discourse has become a dog fight, with right and left pundits yelling over each other, and the media purposefully seeks out confrontational and divisive topics less for our information than our entertainment. For better or for worse, this affects our interaction in everyday life. When we get pissed off, and when we’re looking to make a show and stir some drama up, we use fighting words. We put on a fighting face and take stand as a character of sorts. The frank truth is nobody takes it too seriously, and everyone knows it’s mostly hot air. You would think that wouldn’t be a crime. You would think actually hitting a guy in the face and giving him a black eye, or stealing, or damaging someone’s property would be a worse action. But guess what? At the most basic level, those are misdemeanors. Turns out going Joe Pesci with your mouth gets you charged with a Felony, a thing called Terroristic Threats.  That’s right. You might as well have kept your mouth shut and socked the dude in eye, because that’s only a misdemeanor, presuming you don’t have prior assaults and you don’t break any bones.  Now you’re a terrorist.  Ok, so punching a guy is not my legal advice. You want free advice? Here it is: Anyone who “unlawfully and feloniously directly or indirectly threatens to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another or in a reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror” commits a terroristic threats. The critical distinction on which criminal activity turns in Terroristic Threats in Minnesota is the scienter requirement, or “mens rea.” That was for the other lawyers out there or the Catholic School kids that actually had to take Latin. That means your mindset. It doesn’t say “intentionally”, but in common language, it means you have to actually mean what you say in order to really be guilty of terroristic threats. You have to seriously and immediately mean that you’re going to hurt someone or their property, or you should have known that someone was going to be genuinely fearful you would cash the check your mouth is writing. In other words, it can’t be just posturing. “The test of whether words or phrases are harmless or threatening is the context in which they are used.” United States v. Prochaska, 222 F.2d 1 (7 Cir. 1955); United States v. Pennell, 144 F.Supp. 317 (N.D.Cal.1956). “ Thus the question… Read more {+}

Terroristic Threats: The Catch-All Felony for having a Big Mouth

A person can be charged with making a terroristic threat if they use words to instill fear in others. Examples of terroristic threats include statements like: “I wish I could burn this place down.” “I am going to blow this place up.” “I am going to beat every one of you up!” Now, it is very possible that you have said at least one of those statements at some point in your life. How many times have you been aggravated at work and verbalized how you would like to burn the place down? It isn’t like you were serious, but someone may have taken you seriously and it led to a terroristic charge. Then there are those who get into fights and they may yell threats at the other person while cussing them out. Everything that is said is typically said out of anger. Statements like, “I’ll kill you” can be taken seriously. In one case, a young man was drunk and beating on a window of a friend who locked him outside. The drunk man was yelling obscenities while beating on the window, so the friend called the police. This resulted in the drunk man being arrested and charged with terroristic threats. Over time, the terroristic threat charge has become a catch-all felony for when a person simply has a big mouth. They may not have had a previous criminal offense on their record at all, but saying things that others perceive as being a true threat can result in the charge. Now, a person who says that they have planted a bomb in a building has made a true terroristic threat. This creates panic of the masses and can cause entire buildings to evacuate. In the meantime, every person is concerned with getting out as soon as possible because they are fearful that the building will blow up while they are inside. This is causing people to fear for their lives. However, a simple fight does not always result in individuals fearing for their lives, but it is prosecuted just as aggressively as if someone made a bomb threat. One trend that has happened lately is perceived threats over social media or individuals simply having a “big mouth,” thinking that they will not get into any trouble for saying what they want over sites such as Facebook and Twitter. A number of teenagers have found themselves suspended from school and criminal charges filed against them. One student made a tweet about “drilling my teammates hard.” The young man played football and anyone who knows anything about football knows that “drilling” in contact sports means a hard tackle. However, this was perceived as a threat and it landed the young man in trouble. Those that did not interpret what he was saying correctly took it as a terroristic threat, thus landing him in trouble. This is a case where the young man did not have a big mouth, but the public perception or interpretation of the statement resulted in… Read more {+}

Jury Acquits Client of Felony Terroristic Threats

The Felony Terroristic threats statute is a very broad offense. Minn. Stat. 609.713 provides “Whoever threatens, directly or indirectly, to commit any crime of violence with purpose to terrorize another” is guilty of a felony. An insincere “I’m gonna kill you” or “do that and your dead” can result in a felony charge. Client was charged with felony terroristic threats. It was alleged he confronted the mother of his child over the whereabouts of his child. She had disappeared with his daughter for nearly a year, and he had not seen or heard from her. He confronted her in a public place on the same morning her children were taken by social services. She manufactured a story that he had threatened to kill her boyfriend, who was with her, and that he reached for a knife. By entering evidence of the current child dispute and citing it as a motive for her to lie, and by noting the inconsistency of her testimony with the video, Alex De Marco secured a “not guilty” verdict on the charge of felony terroristic threats. The defense presented no witnesses other than the defendant. If you’ve been charged with terroristic threats, you should know it is one of the most difficult cases for the state to prove at trial if you have a lawyer that knows the law and the rules of evidence. Don’t just hire any lawyer. Invest in your defense. Call Cavaleri & De Marco today. 651-503-8394 Jury Acquits Client of Felony Terroristic Threats was last modified: May 7th, 2015 by Alex DeMarco