Section 22 of the Texas Penal Code contains assaultive criminal offenses. Section 22.07, in particular, focuses on terroristic threats. A terroristic threat is made when someone threatens to commit violence with the requisite intent. In Texas, the requirements for terroristic threats are met when the defendant had the intent for any of the following:
- Placing a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury
- Placing the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury
- Preventing or interrupting the use of any public space
- Impairing or interrupting public transportation, public communications, or public utilities
- Influencing the conduct or activities of a governmental body
- Causing a reaction of any type to the threat requires official or volunteer agencies organized to deal with emergencies
Houston Terroristic Threats Attorney
If you have been accused of making terroristic threats in Houston, TX, contact The Benken Law Firm to receive quality legal counsel. A conviction for this offense can have serious, lifelong consequences but thankfully, Houston violent crime attorney Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm can provide aggressive advocacy for you.
The Benken Law Firm defend those accused of property offenses throughout all communities in Harris County and surrounding counties in Texas. Call (713) 223 - 4051 to schedule a free consultation today and have Mr. Benken get started on your defense.
- Terroristic Threats Classifications
- Penalties For A Texas Terroristic Threats Conviction
- Other Consequences From A Terroristic Threats Conviction
- Defending Against Terroristic Threats Charges
- Additional Resources
Texas categorizes criminal convictions under felonies and misdemeanors. They are set forth by the Texas Penal Code § 12.01. Felonies are considered far more serious than misdemeanors. There are three classes of misdemeanors in Texas: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A felony offenses are the most serious, and Class C felony offenses are the least serious.
There are five classifications of felonies in Texas. The most serious type of felony in Texas is a capital felony. Then: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree felonies. There is also a fifth category of a felony in Texas known as a state jail felony. State jail felonies are slightly less serious and are punishable by time in state jail rather than prison.
Terroristic threats can be classified under several levels of charges in Texas. Placing a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury is generally a Class B misdemeanor. However, it can be considered a Class A misdemeanor if the crime constitutes family violence or if it is committed against a public servant. If it is committed against a peace officer or judge, it is considered a state jail felony. Placing the public in substantial fear of bodily injury, causing impairment to public services, and influencing the conduct of a governmental body are all third-degree felonies. Causing an emergency organization to react is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas. Preventing the use of public space is a Class A misdemeanor unless it caused pecuniary losses of $1,500 or more. Here, the offense would be increased to a state jail felony.
Depending on the level of the charge, the penalties associated with a defendant facing charges for terroristic threats may vary. In Texas, terroristic threats can be classified as Class A or Class B misdemeanors or third-degree or state jail felonies. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable in Texas by up to 1 year in jail and $4,000 in fines, while a Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $2,000 in fines. A state jail felony is punishable by 180 days to 2 years in state jail and fines of up to $10,000. A third-degree felony is punishable in Texas by up to $10,000 in fines and a prison sentence of 2-10 years. Clearly, there is a wide range of penalties for a terrorist threat conviction in Texas. Convincing the prosecution to lower the charges between classes, degrees, or from a felony to a misdemeanor could be highly beneficial to the defendant. This strategy is known as plea bargaining. Plea bargaining allows a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser crime or with the knowledge that they will face penalties on the lower end of the sentencing guidelines.
Being convicted of making terroristic threats can impair someone’s future, but even the infamy from going through a trial- regardless of the verdict- can also damage someone’s reputation. Accusations of terroristic threats could ruin a defendant’s relationships and give employers and landlords cause for concern. A misdemeanor conviction can do this in general, and a felony conviction especially so.
A felony conviction comes with serious constitutional implications. A convicted felon loses several civil rights, including the right to own a firearm, vote, and run for public office. In addition to all of these difficulties, a felon will also most likely be ordered to complete parole when they are released from prison.
One of the most important parts of making a terroristic threat is the intent. If a defendant lacked the intent accused by the prosecution, a defense might be available. For example, some terroristic threats charges are increased in severity if the target was a judge or peace officer. However, the defendant may not have been aware of that individual’s role in society. This type of defense might not get the charges dropped altogether, but lacking the knowledge necessary for more serious charges could aid the defendant in reducing potential penalties.
For someone to be convicted of making terroristic threats, the fear they caused must have been reasonable, and the fear must relate to imminent serious bodily harm. These are terms that could be used to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. For example, if a defendant threatened to poke or pinch someone, this wouldn’t meet the “serious” requirement. If a defendant threatened to someday seek revenge upon someone, this wouldn’t meet the “imminent” requirement. Or, if the defendant was simply joking around, the surrounding circumstances must be analyzed to determine if the victim’s fear was reasonable or not. These types of legal arguments can be complex and are best pursued with the guidance of a seasoned defense attorney.
Texas Penal Code § 22.07 – This FindLaw page contains the Texas Penal Code statute regarding terroristic threats.
Texas Penal Code § 12.01 – This plain language statute provided by the Texas Capitol defines the penalty guidelines for different levels of crimes in Texas.
Houston Terroristic Threats Attorney | Harris County, TX
If you or a loved one has been allegedly accused of committing a terroristic threat, the risks are high. It is imperative that you seek experienced legal representation immediately. Houston defense attorney Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm has been defending Texas visitors and residents charged with violent crimes for over 30 years.
He is prepared to protect your rights. Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm practices law throughout all communities in Harris County and the greater Houston area including Greenspoint, Westchase, Meyerland, and Magnolia Park. Call (713) 223 - 4051 to schedule a free consultation.