Terroristic Threats: Be Careful What You Say!Written on May 16, 2014
There is an old saying that goes: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That may be true, but certain words at certain times can land you in serious trouble!
Free speech is protected in the United States under the First Amendment. Most people know, though, that you can’t shout “fire” in a movie theater if there isn’t actually a fire. You can’t make threats against the President of the United States without getting a visit from the Secret Service. So although we have freedom of speech in this county, there are things that if uttered won’t have a happy ending for the speaker.
The law in Georgia addresses words that can be threatening in nature. Terroristic threats, which is a felony, is a law that is specifically directed at threatening words. The code includes the following language: “A person commits the offense of a terroristic threat when he or she threatens to commit any crime of violence.” Telling somebody you are going to kill them, even if you don’t really mean it, can get you arrested. Even threatening to punch somebody in the nose is a felony under this particular law.
The code also covers some other ground. Any type of words that cause the evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation would fall under this law. The code even broadly covers “serious public inconvenience” which can be interpreted any number of ways.
Unlike many crimes, there usually isn’t much physical evidence when it comes to terroristic threats. There won’t be fingerprints or DNA. At most, there may be a witness if a statement is overheard or made in public. Many times, when a terroristic threat accusation is made, it comes down to one person’s word against another’s. Like many things in life, the intent of words is in the perception of the beholder. A statement that may be intended as innocent or even in jest, could be taken as a serious threat and result in a call to the police. Be careful what you say, especially when angry or in a stressful situation.
If you find yourself accused of making a terroristic threat, seek legal counsel immediately. Don’t try to explain what you meant to the authorities. Those words will more than likely be used against you. You can’t be convicted of a terroristic threat solely based on what one other person says. According to the code section: “No person shall be convicted under this subsection on the uncorroborated testimony of the party to whom the threat is communicated.” That simply means there needs to be some other type of proof that a person actually said what they are accused of saying.
Legal counsel will help protect your rights and serve your best interests. If you have been accused of making a terroristic threat, contact The Silverbach Group, immediately. You can reach us at 770-635-0334.