Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, people say things they shouldn’t. It happens to almost all of us. You were angry and fed up or you just wanted a person who was harassing you or making your life miserable to leave you alone. Or maybe it was an inappropriate joke or comment that was taken the wrong way. Often, because of the emotions involved between spouses and family members, during an argument that leads to domestic violence, threats of harm may have been issued. Terroristic threats can also be indirect actions such as pointing a gun at someone’s head or brandishing a knife in their direction to cause terror in that person. Whether you intended to carry out a violent act against the individual or not, if your words or actions caused a person to fear that you were going to physically harm them, their property, or loved ones, and they file a police report about the incident, you can be charged with the crime of terroristic threats in New Jersey.
Hackensack criminal attorney Adam M. Lustberg has represented numerous individuals charged with terroristic threats over the years, and he knows how to defend you against a charge of making terroristic threats in Paramus, Elmwood Park, Bloomfield, Newark, or anywhere else in New Jersey. If you have been charged with terroristic threats in NJ, Adam M. Lustberg can help.
We have years of experience in courts through NJ and NY and a proven track record of success in criminal cases.
You may wish you could take back what you said or did, but it’s too late for that now. You have a case pending for terroristic threats, and under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3, you could be in serious trouble. New Jersey is known for its hard stance against threats of violence, and its laws are stringent and the penalties severe. If convicted of a terroristic threats charge in New Jersey, you could face 3-5 years in a state prison.
While threatening another with violence may constitute the crime of terroristic threats, the statute covers additional behaviors that are prohibited. Terroristic threats can, for instance, include bomb threats against a public building or threatening to shoot everyone in a theater or school. Such threats are not taken lightly in the New Jersey judicial system. The crime of terroristic threats in New Jersey is defined as:
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.
Though this statute addresses public safety threats, most terroristic threats incidents occur between individuals who know each other. During domestic arguments, disputes between neighbors, or alcohol-incited fights, threats are often made in anger, such as, “I’m going to kill you!” Although you have no intention of committing violence against that person, your intention may not matter in court. Also, among strangers, the incident of road rage has increased in recent years, with tempers flaring and physical threats made against other drivers. Often, these road rage arguments lead to terroristic threats charges.
Under most conditions, terroristic threats in NJ is a third degree crime that carries penalties of 3-5 years incarceration, up to a $75,000 fine, and a probationary period.
However, if terroristic threats were made during a state of emergency, whether you were aware of the emergency or not, it is a second degree crime that carries penalties of 5-10 years incarceration, up to a $250,000 fine, and a probationary period.
To charge someone with terroristic threats, initially, the only factor necessary is the terrorizing threat of physical injury to a person or property, such as, “I’m going to burn your house down while you’re asleep!” It also applies to threats of violence against a third person important to you, such as, “I’m going to kill your entire family!” Also, some wordless actions constitute terroristic threats, such as putting a gun to someone’s head or brandishing a knife in their direction.
In these instances, the threat must cause fear in the mind of a reasonable person, and there must be a chance that violence may be carried out. If the threat does not or cannot reasonably be considered to cause fear of physical violence or property violence, it probably should not be considered a terroristic threat.
A tenacious litigator who won’t back down. Prepared to challenge the evidence against you and will fight to protect your rights.
Because the burden of proof that you committed the crime of terroristic threats is the responsibility of the prosecution, they must prove that the following elements were present:
As an experienced, knowledgeable NJ criminal defense attorney, Adam M. Lustberg understands the complexities of the terroristic threats statute thoroughly. Understanding the law enables him to most effectively defend a client. As a skilled terroristic threats and domestic violence attorney, Adam M. Lustberg can dissect the prosecution’s case, argue intent, negotiate charge dismissal or reduced charges, and, if a case goes to trial, defeat prosecutorial witness testimony, among other defense strategies.
Before your NJ terroristic threats case goes to trial in a superior court, many negotiations and interventions could help minimize or eliminate the potential consequences of your charges. Time is critical, and it’s never too soon to begin to build a strong case against your terroristic threats charges in Hackensack, Paramus, Fort Lee, Newark, or elsewhere in New Jersey.