Minnesota Terroristic Threats Attorneys
If you are charged with threats of violence (formerly known as “terroristic threats”), it probably goes without saying that you need to fight this charge and do everything possible to avoid this conviction. A threat of violence conviction could be debilitating to your future prospects of getting gainful employment and housing. There are a number of defenses a skilled threats of violence defense attorney should pursue for each case. But, before getting into those, it is helpful to understand what acts constitute a threat of violence.
Minn. Stat. Sec. 609.713 defines three acts that can be prosecuted as a threat of violence.
- You threaten – directly or indirectly – to commit any crime of violence with the intent to terrorize another or to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, vehicle or facility of public transportation or otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience, or in a reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience.
A couple definitions are necessary in order to understand what this means.
“Any Crime of Violence” refers to specific crimes enumerated under Minn. Stat. Sec. 609.1095, subd. 1(d). Generally, these are crimes that involve an act or attempted act that could result in substantial bodily harm to another, which includes but is not limited to, murder, manslaughter, 1st- through 3rd degree assault, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, false imprisonment, and 1st- through 4th degree criminal sexual conduct.
“To Terrorize” means to cause extreme fear by use of violence or threats.
A “threat” is a declaration of an intent to injure another or their property by some unlawful act. The context of the threat becomes instrumental to the case. In determining whether the words or phrases deemed the “threat” are harmless or threatening, the question turns on whether the communication, in its context, would have a reasonable tendency to create apprehension that its originator will act in accordance. As a result, the victim’s reaction and perspective is circumstantial evidence relevant to proving the necessary intent.
You may also commit a terroristic threat without intent when you threaten to commit any crime of violence “in a reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror.” This occurs when you recklessly risk the danger that the statements would be taken as threats by another and that they would cause fear.
- You communicated to another, with the intent to terrorize another or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror, that explosives or an explosive device, or any incendiary device is present at a named place or location, whether or not the same is in fact present.
An incendiary device includes any device that is ignited by fire, friction, concussion, detonation, or other method that may produce destructive effects through combustion. An example of how broad this can reach is when a court found that a wooden cross wrapped in a cloth soaked in flammable liquid was considered an incendiary device.
- You displayed, exhibited, brandished, or otherwise employed a replica firearm or a BB gun in a threatening manner and you either caused or attempted to cause terror in another person or acted in a reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror.
If you are found guilty of the first act of terroristic threats, you may be sentenced to a prison term not to exceed 5-years and/or a fine of $10,000. A guilty conviction to the second act is a prison term of 3-years and/or a fine of $3,000. And a guilty conviction to the third act is a prison term of 366 days and/or a fine of $3,000.
All three convictions are felonies and will include a loss of your civil liberties and a loss of your ability to possess firearms.
Context of the Threat – Whether the state needs to prove intent or reckless disregard, the context is crucial. Consideration must be given to the relationship of the parties, affect on the alleged victim, whether alcohol was involved, and the totality of the circumstances.
Similarly, you may argue that your actions are better characterized as “transitory anger.” The purpose of this crime is not to “authorize grave sanctions against the kind of verbal threat which expresses transitory anger,” which lacks the intent to terrorize. Again, this gets back to the context of the threat. But, if it was a threat made in the heat of the moment, this may classify as transitory anger.
Finally, you may argue that your actions were in self-defense. If you made a threat for purposes of quelling an assault against you, then you should raise this as an affirmative defense to the charge against you.
If you have been charged with threats of violence, you need to consult with a skilled Minnesota threats of violence defense attorney like North Star Criminal Defense. The sooner you do this, the better so that we can immediately begin investigating the facts of the case and developing your defense. Contact us now.