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Terroristic Threats In New Jersey

Terroristic Threats NJ – Terroristic Threats Charges NJ – NJ Terroristic Threats Penalties – NJ Terroristic Threats Punishments

“What are the punishments, penalties, and defense for terroristic threats charges in New Jersey? Can I beat a terroristic threats case?”

terroristic threats in nj“Terroristic threats” is a third degree crime in New Jersey, which means you can be punished with up to 3-5 years in prison and fines of up to $15,000.  This has become a very common crime in New Jersey, and cases are typically based on one person’s word against another’s.  Unless the alleged threats are actually written, it’s a hard case to prove against you.  Even if the threats are written and physical prove is present, there are a number of defenses that we can use to beat this charge.  That said, in order to beat any case, it helps to understand the letter of the law:

NJ Terroristic Threats N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3

a. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he threatens to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another or to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation, or otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience. A violation of this subsection is a crime of the second degree if it occurs during a declared period of national, State or county emergency. The actor shall be strictly liable upon proof that the crime occurred, in fact, during a declared period of national, State or county emergency. It shall not be a defense that the actor did not know that there was a declared period of emergency at the time the crime occurred.

b. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he threatens to kill another with the purpose to put him in imminent fear of death under circumstances reasonably causing the victim to believe the immediacy of the threat and the likelihood that it will be carried out.

While the first element of this statute seems to imply a threat of public safety, most terroristic threats charges stem from issues of domestic violence.  There are far fewer bomb threats than there are instances of verbal threats like “I’m going to kill you.”  While these issues most commonly occur between people that know each other, instances of road rage or even alcohol fueled fights can result in a terrorstic threats charge between perfect strangers.

The only element that needs to be present for this charge to exist is the threat of physical injury (i.e. “I’m going to break your leg”), damage to one’s property (i.e. “I’m going to burn your house down”), or even injury to an individual of importance to the threatened party (i.e. “I am going to kill your daughter.”)  This threat also has to reasonably cause fear.  If two friends are joking around and one crosses the line by saying something like, “If the 49ers win the superbowl, I’m going to burn your house down,” it’s not necessarily reasonable to assume that its reasonable to take the threat seriously.

If a reasonable person believes that the threat is real and that there is a legitimate chance that it might actually be carried out, then a terroristic threat exists.  That said, courts have found that a serious threat is not just a temper tantrum or burst of anger in which some irrational threats are shouted.  In reality, courts are going to look at all of the facts surrounding the case, and determine whether or not these threats fall under the statute.

To defend you in court, we need to challenge any of the three elements that need to exist for your charge to stick.  If any one of these elements is not present, you can not be found guilty.

In order for you to be found guilty of terroristic threats in NJ, these three elements have to exist in your case: 1.) You made a threat.  2.) The threat implied that you were going to commit an act of violence 3.) The threat was made with the intent to “terrorize” the party that received the threat.  As a New Jersey criminal defense attorney, it’s my job to cast doubt on any one of these elements, even if it’s merely to dispute your intent to terrorize the individual.  If any one element doesn’t exist, you will win your case.

Again, if convicted, you face 3-5 years in prison and fines of up to $15,000.  As you might have read in the statute earlier, if you are convicted during a time of governmentally decreed emergency, the crime is graded higher, as a second degree crime.  It is not considered to be a valid defense if you say, “I didn’t know it was a time of emergency”.  Second degree crimes in NJ are punishable by 5 to 10 years in state prison and fines of up to $150,000.  While frequently a “he said/she said” crime, you are going to need a serious defense.  Please call the Tormey Law Firm at (201) 556-1571 and we are happy to help you fight these charges.

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