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The term "terrorism" conjures up horrific memories of such events as the attacks of September 11, 2001, or the Boston Marathon bombing. Many people are surprised to learn that the definition of terroristic threats under state law in Texas includes a wide range of statements or actions. In many of these cases, a person is arrested for makng a threat when the statement was merely taken out of context.
Whether a person is facing state or federal charges, the possible consequences of a conviction are harsh and long-lasting. In addition to possible incarceration, fines, and the loss of several rights, anyone accused of this serious offense can have difficulty obtaining employment or housing if a conviction appears on their criminal record.
If you have been arrested or believe that you are being investigated for allegedly making any kind of terrorist threat in Texas, you should immediately contact Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr. Our San Antonio criminal defense attorneys have been defending clients in state and federal courts since 1968.
Gerry Goldstein and Cynthia Orr have both been Board Certified in Criminal Law and Criminal Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Van Hilley is a Chairman of the Criminal Law Committee and the Federal Courts Committee for the San Antonio Bar Association who has also served as President of the organization. Don Flanary has had terroristic threat charges dismissed for multiple clients.
Our lawyers will provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call 210-226-1463 or send us an online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Specific locations or groups of people can impact the classification of a terroristic threat offense in Texas. Under Texas Penal Code § 22.07, it is a Class B misdemeanor is 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.
It is also a Class B misdemeanor to threaten to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, although this charge can become a Class A misdemeanor if the offense is committed against a member of the person's family or household or otherwise constitutes family violence, or is committed against a public servant.
It is also a Class A misdemeanor 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 form of conveyance, or other public place.
A terroristic threat is a third-degree felony if an alleged offender threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to do any of the following:
A conviction for any of these offenses can carry very serious consequences. Possible maximum sentences may include:
Numerous federal agencies oversee investigations of alleged terrorist plots in the United States. Under 18 U.S. Code § 2332b, an alleged offender can face federal charges for threatening, attempting, or conspiring to:
Threatening to commit one of these offenses is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If an alleged offender attempts or conspires to commit on of these offenses, then a conviction is punishable by any term of years up to the maximum punishment that would have applied had the offense been completed.
On February 13, 2013, then 18-year-old Justin Carter was playing the multiplayer online strategy video game League of Legends when he got into a verbal exchange with another player who called him crazy. Justin responded by typing:
"I'm f- - - - - in the head alright, I think I'ma SHOOT UP A KINDERGARTEN [...] AND WATCH THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT RAIN DOWN [...] AND EAT THE BEATING HEART OF ONE OF THEM."
Despite having typed “LOL” and “JK” afterwards, a Canadian woman who saw the exchange took a screenshot and sent it to law enforcement officials in Texas who arrested Carter the following day on terroristic threat charges. While an anonymous donor posted Justin’s $500,000 bail, Comal County prosecutors are still proceeding toward trial.
Carter is being represented by Don Flanary of Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr. He filed a request to dismiss the charges because Carter was only joking, the Texas statute is overly broad, and free speech is constitutionally protected. Relief on those grounds were denied by District Judge Jack Robison and affirmed by the Third Court of Appeals. You can learn more about the case in these CNN and NPR stories or the following July 11, 2013 segment from the MSNBC program "All In with Chris Hayes":
Texas Penal Code § 22.07 — You can read the full text of the terroristic threat statute in Texas. The statute explains how pecuniary loss can affect the classification of the criminal charge and also links to definitions of family, family violence, and household. You can also review the statute's amendment history.
Patriot Act | United States Department of Justice — The USA PATRIOT Act is a controversial Act of Congress that stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001." On this website, you can review the full text of the Patriot Act, review testimony about the Act, and learn more about what the Act does in regards to anti-terrorism efforts. You can also find a section that dispels myths surrounding the Act. Since its original passage on October 26, 2001, the Patriot Act has been reauthorized in 2005, amended and reauthorized in 2006, and had key provisions extended in 2011.
Do you think that you are the target of a criminal investigation or have you already been arrested for allegedly making terroristic threats in Texas? It is in your best interest to not make any kind of statement to authorities without legal counsel.
Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr aggressively defends clients accused of all types of violent crimes throughout the greater Bexar County area. You can have our experienced criminal defense attorneys in San Antonio review your case by calling 210-226-1463 right now to schedule a free consultation.