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Last updated on February 2, 2024

What are Terroristic Threats in New Jersey?

In New Jersey and around the country, we see that terroristic threats are on the rise. While we may think of a “terrorist” as someone from an adversarial country or fringe domestic group making threats against groups of people, anyone can be charged with a terroristic threat crime if they are threatening violence with the intention of terrorizing another person or group of people. If you have been charged with a terroristic threat, contact a New Jersey terroristic threats lawyer today.

In the state of New Jersey, the threat of violence is taken just as seriously as the actual commission of violence. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3, a person can be convicted of a third-degree crime 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.” Additionally, a person can be convicted of a terroristic threat crime “if he threatens to kill another with the purpose to put him in imminent fear of death” causing the victim to believe his life is in jeopardy.

terroristic threats lawyer in New Jersey

The Doctrine of Merger and Doctrine of Severance in Penalties for Terroristic Threats Charges

The penalties for terroristic threats conviction can be different in each New Jersey county. Terroristic threats charges are usually considered third-degree offenses unless they were committed during a state, county, or national emergency. In that case, it would be a second-degree offense.

Under the doctrine of merger, a terroristic threats conviction will be combined with a conviction for a higher-grade crime. One example of this situation is when a person is convicted of first-degree robbery and also convicted of terroristic threats. In this case, the terroristic threats conviction will be considered a lesser offense which merges into the more serious offense. The individual cannot be punished separately for each offense. However, this merger is not possible if the person is convicted of a lesser crime in conjunction with a conviction for terroristic threats.

The doctrine of severance exists because individuals are usually charged with both a violation of a restraining order and a separate terroristic threat indictment. It would be unfair to indict an individual for both terroristic threats and restraining order offenses under New Jersey State Law. This is because the testimony about the restraining order can be prejudicial when defending the terroristic threats charge. 

A highly skilled criminal defense attorney like attorney Adam M. Lustberg can be invaluable to your case if you are facing charges of terroristic threats in NJ. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

Not All Terroristic Threats Are Made to Public Safety

Consequently, not all terroristic threats are threats made to public safety. In many cases, a terroristic threat can be a verbal threat between two individuals who know each other or in cases of road rage or an alcohol-induced fight in a local bar. Many terroristic threats are made in conjunction with a domestic violence situation. 

Because of the public and private safety aspects of terroristic threats, the state of New Jersey is taking these crimes very seriously. While you may consider a threat a minor flair of anger, the law will consider it something more. Your minor flair of anger may land you in jail facing serious criminal charges if your threat

  • Was made personally to another person
  • If the threat involved the commission of a violent crime against that person or persons
  • If the threat was made for the express purpose of terrorizing that person or persons or causing the evacuation of a building
  • If the threat caused that person or persons to feel in imminent fear for their lives

If your threat is also coupled with the possession of a weapon, it is not only considered a more credible threat, but you may be facing additional weapons charges. In this case, when a possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose occurs during a terroristic threat, penalties will be far more serious, with sentences possibly set by the judge to be served consecutively. 

If you are facing a terroristic threat charge, it is critical to get the help of an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to understand the consequences, your rights under the law, and your options. 

From Road Rage to Public Disputes: How Everyday Scenarios Can Escalate to Terroristic Threats

Road rage incidents are a common occurrence that can easily escalate into terroristic threats. For example, imagine two drivers getting into a minor fender bender at an intersection. Both pull over to exchange insurance information. However, one driver becomes irate and starts yelling obscenities and threats at the other driver. In a fit of rage, he warns that he knows where the other driver lives and threatens to come to his house that night to teach him a lesson. This type of explicit threat of violence could potentially be considered a terroristic threat under New Jersey law.

Similarly, a public dispute between neighbors over something minor like noise or parking issues can also escalate if one neighbor loses control and makes threatening statements. For instance, one neighbor complains to another about loud music late at night. The noisemaker reacts angrily, getting in the neighbor’s face and threatening to assault or even kill him if he ever knocks on his door to complain again. Even if he has no intention to follow through, this deliberate threat of violence could be deemed terroristic if it was made in reckless disregard of the risk of causing terror.

Road rage, neighbor disputes, and other common interpersonal conflicts seem minor at first. However, they can cross the line into criminal charges if inappropriate threats are made in the heat of the moment. That is why it is critical for New Jersey residents to avoid making explicit or implied threats of violence during heated exchanges. A skilled terroristic threats attorney can advise individuals who have been accused of making terroristic threats during situations that escalated out of control.

Is Terroristic Threat Considered a Violent Crime?

Terroristic threats are classified as violent offenses, encompassing situations where an individual or a group is targeted with a threat of violence meant to induce fear. In the state of New Jersey, the gravity assigned to these crimes is equivalent to actual acts of violence, underlining their severity.

Instances of terroristic threats can arise from various circumstances, including verbal altercations between acquaintances, incidents of road rage, altercations fueled by alcohol, or cases of domestic violence. The law does not regard a threat as a mere expression of anger but rather as a serious matter, warranting harsh legal repercussions.

According to New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3), individuals can be charged with a third-degree offense if they purposefully threaten violence to terrorize others, resulting in the evacuation of a building or public transportation or causing substantial public inconvenience. Similarly, a conviction can be obtained if a person threatens to kill another with the intention of instilling imminent fear of death, thereby making the victim genuinely believe their life is in danger.

Being found guilty of terroristic threats can lead to imprisonment ranging from 3 to 5 years and fines of up to $75,000. Given the significant ramifications, it is crucial for individuals facing charges related to terroristic threats to promptly seek legal representation from a seasoned criminal defense attorney.

Getting Legal Representation

If you are convicted of terroristic threats in New Jersey, you may be facing 3 to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $75,000. But there may be defenses available to you. It is important to get the support of an experienced criminal defense attorney who fully understands the law, the evidence against you, and the mindset of the prosecution in your case. 
Adam M. Lustberg and the criminal defense team at Lustberg Law Offices LLC diligently protect your rights under the law to ensure your best possible outcome. If you are facing a terrorist threats charge, call us at (201) 880-5311 or contact us through our online contact form to schedule a consultation.

Types of Terroristic Threats Description
Verbal threat between individuals who know each other Threats made in personal relationships or situations like road rage or bar fights
Threat involving the commission of a violent crime against a person or persons Threats indicating an intention to carry out a violent act
Threat made for the purpose of terrorizing a person or causing building evacuation Threats intended to create fear or panic in individuals or prompt building evacuations
Threat causing imminent fear for the lives of others Threats that make individuals believe their lives are in immediate danger
Threat coupled with possession of a weapon Threats made while in possession of a weapon

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