You might think that threatening another person with violence is okay in Pennsylvania as long as you do not act on your threat. However, in some situations, making threats of violence is illegal and can potentially lead to serious consequences. For example, if you call in a bomb threat to your workplace, the court, or a school to try to get out of having to attend, you can be charged with making a terroristic threat.
Numerous school shootings have been reported across the U.S. Unfortunately, some people have made copycat threats, calling them into schools or posting threats to commit mass shootings on the internet. In just the 12 days after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, for example, 638 threats were reported, and 32 of those threats were made in Pennsylvania. By the time that three weeks had elapsed, 750 terroristic threats had been made in the U.S. to schools across the nation.
Some of these threats have been made by students who think that they are simply pulling pranks on their teachers and fellow students. These types of pranks are simply not funny and are also against the criminal laws of Pennsylvania. If you make a terroristic threat in Pennsylvania, you may face serious criminal penalties. At DiCindio Law, we can represent you if you are accused of making terroristic threats to try to secure the best outcome that is possible for you. You should understand that Pennsylvania courts take terroristic threats seriously. If you are charged with making terroristic threats, you may face time in jail, fines, and other potential penalties. It is important for you to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to minimize the potential consequences that you might face.
The law about making terroristic threats in Pennsylvania
Making terroristic threats in Pennsylvania is prohibited under 18 Pa.C.S.A 2706. Under this statute, a terroristic threat occurs when a person directly or indirectly communicates one of the following types of threats:
- A threat to commit a violent crime with the intent to cause terror in another person
- A threat that is intended to cause the evacuation of a building or of a public transportation facility
- A threat that is meant to cause terror or serious public inconvenience
Terroristic threats that are prohibited can be made over the phone, in person, via email, via text, or on social media. You may still be arrested for making terroristic threats even if you don’t have the ability to carry out what you have threatened. What counts is your intent to terrorize others rather than your capability to carry out the activities that you have threatened. Even if you are physically unable to carry out the threat that you have made, you can still face charges of making a terroristic threat.
What are the potential penalties for making a terroristic threat?
Making a terroristic threat to commit a crime of violence with the intent of causing terror in another person is a misdemeanor. However, if your threat leads to an evacuation of a building or a transportation facility, it is a felony. Under Pennsylvania law, a conviction for a first-degree misdemeanor offense can result in jail time for up to five years. If you are convicted of a third-degree felony offense of making a terroristic offense, you may face up to seven years in prison.
You may also be ordered to pay a fine. If you are convicted of first-degree misdemeanor making of terroristic threats, the judge can order you to pay a fine of up to $5,000 in addition to or in lieu of your jail sentence. If you are convicted of a third-degree felony offense of making a terroristic threat, you can be ordered to pay a fine of up to $15,000 in addition to any prison sentence that you might receive.
Finally, you may face a civil lawsuit if anyone was harmed because of your terroristic threat.
Why you should retain an attorney from DiCindio Law
When you hire an attorney from DiCindio Law, he or she will review all aspects of your case to determine whether the prosecution has evidence to support the accusations against you. Your lawyer will analyze what occurred and look for defenses that may be available to you. A lawyer will try to discredit evidence that is unfavorable to you, and he or she may file evidentiary motions to try to suppress some types of evidence.
The defenses that your attorney might raise in your case will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. He or she will be trying to identify every potential avenue that could help you, making it crucial for you to provide him or her with all of the information that can support your defense.
When you have been charged with making a terroristic threat, it is important for you to contact an attorney as soon as possible. If you can, it is a good idea to retain a lawyer before your initial hearing. An experienced defense lawyer from DiCindio Law may fight for you at every step and work closely with you to obtain the most favorable resolution possible for your charges. In some cases, an attorney may secure dismissal of the charges. In others, a lawyer may be able to secure a favorable plea agreement by negotiating with the prosecutor. Contact DiCindio Law today at 610.430.3535 to schedule a consultation.
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.
Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale