What Are 'Terroristic Threats'?

By Andrew Lu on April 10, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The killing of the two Texas District Attorneys have led to two people being charged with making terroristic threats. So, you may be wondering just what are terroristic threats and what do the charges mean?

For example, if you simply scream “I’m going to kill you” in a fit of rage, would that constitute a terroristic threat? Or do you need more than a simple statement?

And does the recipient of your threat factor into the decision of whether your are charged with making criminal terroristic threats? For example, making a threat against the President may be a crime. But when do threats to other public officials like a judge, prosecutor, or even a meter maid constitute a crime?

In Texas, a person can generally be convicted of making terroristic threats if he commits an offense or threatens to commit an offense involving violence including one where the intent is to:

  • cause a reaction in a government official
  • place any person or the public in general in fear of imminent serious bodily injury
  • influence the conduct of a government agency

Texas laws regarding terroristic threats are similar to many other state laws where someone can be charged for the crime regardless of who is the recipient of the threat. So you could potentially be charged with the crime if you threaten your neighbor, even if your neighbor is just an average lay person.

What separates a crime of a terroristic threat from other threats or crimes like harassment or intimidation is that a terroristic threat typically must involve a threat of great bodily injury or death.

Making terroristic threats is generally covered by state laws. These laws may have different elements for the offense. If you have a question regarding such a charge, it is a good idea to talk to a local criminal defense attorney.

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