NJ Terroristic Threats Defense Attorney

     Terroristic threats are most commonly charged after threats were made in the heat of the moment in a verbal argument.  These threats can be made verbally, in person, or over the phone, in writing, or even on Facebook.  It was often used as a predicate in Domestic Violence charges, and carries very harsh penalties.

What are the penalties?

     In New Jersey, Terroristic Threats, are defined as a 3rd degree crime.  This means that if convicted you may face a presumptive minimum of 3 years and maximum of 5 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.

     If the threat occured during a, "governmental decreed emergency", the crime is graded in the 2nd degree.  It then carries a minimum presumptive sentence of 5 years, up to a possible 10 years in prison, together with a fine up to $150,000.

Can I Defend the Charge?

To be found guilty of making Terroristic Threats in New Jersey, the state must prove several things:

1.  The Defendant threatened a crime of violence;

2.  The Defendant made the supposed threat purposely, with the intention to cause fear or terror;

3.  It was reasonable for the victim to fear the threat (meaning that a joke made between friends may not be reasonable to believe)

     There are many avenues of defense in these cases, ranging from showing lack of intent, to inability to carry out the threat, each defense is tailored directly to the facts of your case.  As Criminal Defense Attorney's it is our job to cast doubt on any of these elements.  If the state is unable to prove any of them beyond a reasonable doubt, you win the case and walk away scot free.  

       With such high penalties, including Prison time, a Criminal Record, and large Fines, it is important to have someone experience defending these matters.  The skilled NJ Terroristic Threat Defense Lawyers of Avery & Avery, have successfully defended Terroristic Threat charges in New Jersey Superior Court for over 40 years.  For a free consultation, call us at 201-943-2445, or reach out to us via our contact page.

What is a Terroristic Threat?

In New Jersey, Terroristic Threats are defined essentially as threatening any crime of violence against another, with the purpose to terrorize or put them in imminent fear of death or bodily injury.  This is a rather broad definition and includes threats against property, "I'm going to smash your windshield", as well as threats against people of importantance such as ones children or family.

The full text of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3, is below:

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I was only joking with the threat?

To be convicted for terroristic threats in NJ, the ‘victim’ has to reasonably be fearful of imminent harm.  This means that if the ‘threat’ was said in a casual way, said often, obviously meant jokingly, or if the threat could obviously not be carried out, the State cannot meet its burden of proof.  This is the most common manner our terroristic threat defense attorneys save client’s from the harsh penalties of the crime.  

What if they never told me to stop?

Telling someone to stop their communication or actions is not a prerequisite of the offense.  If the actions were enough or often enough to cause alarm or annoyance in the 'victim', that is enough to be found guilty of harassment.  Even so there may be many defenses to this including prior consistant acceptable conduct.  If you believe you are not guilty of harrassment, we invite you to contact our offices for a free consult and review of your case to determine its defensibility. 

If they have caught me and there are no defenses, what can I do?

In some situations the police have caught the defendant dead to rights and there are no defenses.  In situations like these we have often been successful in downgrading the offense to a far lesser penalty and no jail time.  Another approach is to enter our client into a diversionary program such as Pre Trial Intervention or Conditional Discharge.  These programs provide the benefit of no jail time and no criminal record.  We have been successful with combinations of the two as well when dealing with high level offenders.

What do I tell the police? 

We give the same answer to all clients regarding all criminal charges, say nothing!  Until you talk to your NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Will this be on my record?

A conviction for terroristic threats will be on your record, and is often looked at negatively by employers.  Beyond the criminal penalties, this is the biggest reason why it is important to defend yourself and hire an experienced NJ terroristic threat defense attorney.  

If the case is ultimately dismissed, acquitted, or diverted, the charges can be expunged in relatively quick order.  Without an expungement however, there will still be a record of arrest even if there is not a record of conviction.

How will my terroristic threat charge affect my immigration status?

This is not a simple question.  Depending on what your status is, and what your charges are, there can be vast consequences including deportation from the United States.  Generally, most criminal convictions are extremely dangerous to your immigration status and may result in deportation, excludability, or ineligibility for citizenship.  Being a minimum of a third degree crime makes this charge especially dangerous for visa and green card holders, and hiring a terroristic threat defense lawyer immediately is highly advised.

I have been caught on this before, are there any additional penalties?

The courts have a range of authority in sentencing and will generally increase your penalties for any crime the more times you are caught.  For a first offense you may get minimum penalties, for a third offense they may give you the maximum prison times.   In repeat offenses especially if a restraining order has been entered, you may be subject to a Contempt of Court charge  

The 'victim' was my spouse, relative, or friend, is this still terroristic threats?

It doesn't matter who the person was, threats are threats.  In fact the consequences in these situations may further subject you to domestic violence charges.  For more information on this, see here.

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