Terroristic Threats: Be Careful What You SayWritten on January 7, 2015
Terroristic threats is an offense in Georgia that can often leave those accused of it confused, or even in shock. The confusion doesn’t just stem from being charged with a crime, but charged with a very serious felony.
According to the law in Georgia, the crime of “terroristic threats” is defined as “threatening to commit any crime of violence” against another person. There are other specific acts covered by this section of the Georgia code, but making threats of violence against another is most often what people are arrested for.
As children we are taught that “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That may be true, but the wrong words can certainly land you behind bars. A terroristic threats charge most often arises from things said in the heat of the moment. If you are in an argument with someone and angrily threaten to beat them up, you could very well face a felony charge. It doesn’t matter if you really meant anything by the words that you said. The very utterance of the words, if perceived as a threat by another, is enough to be arrested and charged.
There is a common misconception about this offense. People have been charged with terroristic threats and have been upset because there was no act of “terrorism.” It’s important to remember that “terroristic threats” have absolutely nothing to do with “terrorism.” The words just sound alike. Think of it more in the terms of instilling terror in someone by threatening their safety. By that reference and with that meaning, this is also a terroristic threat. This offense code isn’t related whatsoever to society’s contemporary understanding of terrorism.
It’s important to keep in mind that terroristic threats can’t be charged when it’s one person’s word against another person’s word. There has to be some sort of witness or corroborating evidence. The law was written to prevent someone from making an unfounded accusation out of anger or spite. In this regard, the law was written to protect the innocent from harm.
Other highlights of the statute include:
- Threats to release a hazardous substance.
- Threats to burn or damage property with the purpose of terrorizing another or causing the evacuation of a building.
- He or she uses a burning or flaming cross or other burning or flaming symbol…with the intent to terrorize another or another’s household.
This is a very serious charge. Penalties could include fines of up to $1,000, and between one and five years in prison. The consequences could be even stiffer if a person is injured as a result of the threat. The best way to avoid an arrest for terroristic threats is to keep your cool and remain calm. Things said in anger, even if you don’t really mean them, can lead to an arrest and serious jail time. If you have been charged with terroristic threats, or any other offense, you need an attorney working for you. Your first call should be to The Silverbach Group. We are here to help you. You can reach us at (770) 635-0334.