Fort Worth Terroristic Threat Defense Lawyer


Are you or someone you know facing a terroristic threat charge in Fort Worth, Arlington or a surrounding city? If so, you need an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney that has a proven track record of success fighting terroristic threat charges in Fort Worth, Texas.

If you have been arrested for the crime of terroristic threat, you were probably shocked to hear the name of the crime. Most people immediately think about an act of terrorism, like a bombing or other terroristic activity. In some ways, that is true in that someone can be arrested, charged and convicted of terroristic threat if they threatened violence and intended to follow through with those violent actions. However, the crime of terroristic threat has nothing to do with domestic or foreign terrorism.

What Is The Crime of Terroristic Threat In Texas?

When analyzing the crime of Terroristic Threat in Texas, we are required to refer to Texas Penal Code §22.07, which states that a person commits the offense of terroristic threat if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:

  1. Cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies; or
  2. Place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  3. prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other forms of conveyance, or other public places;
  4. cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public services;
  5. place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
  6. influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.

Punishment Ranges For Terroristic Threat Charges In Texas

According to the Texas Penal Code, terroristic threat can be classified as low as a Class B misdemeanor offense up to a 3rd degree felony charge. If charged as a Class B misdemeanor, terroristic threat can be punishable by up to 180 days in the county jail and up to a $2,000 fine.

However, if the terroristic threat charge alleges a family member or family violence designation, the charge is elevated to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the Tarrant County jail and up to a $4,000 fine. If the terroristic threat is made against a police office or public servant, you can face a Class A Misdemeanor Terroristic Threat.

When does a terroristic threat charge become a felony under Texas law? Under more extreme circumstances, a terroristic threat charge can be elevated to a third degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. If the prosecutor alleges that the terroristic threat involved the following allegations, you will be facing a third degree felony:

  • cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public services;
  • place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
  • influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.

Finally, a terroristic threat charge can be filed as a state jail felony, punishable by a minimum of 180 days and up to 2 years in State Jail facility. A state jail felony terroristic threat requires the State of Texas to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a threat with specific intent to prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other forms of conveyance, or other public places.

Criminal Defenses To Terroristic Threat Charges In Texas

Under Texas criminal law, the prosecutor will be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal element of specific intent. This is a primary distinction between assault by threat and terroristic threat. Under Texas law, you can be charged with the crime of assault for making threats against the alleged victim that reasonably places them in fear of serious bodily injury or death. Terroristic threat charges are similar to assault by threat charges in that they can involve the same threat being made. The primary distinction between the two charges is determined by the intent of the threat made by the accused. If the alleged victim does not claim to be in fear of serious bodily injury or death from the threat received, you can still be charged with terroristic threat if facts are present that establish you had the specific intent to place the alleged victim in fear of serious bodily injury.

Let’s take a few minutes to examine some common legal defenses that your experienced and aggressive Fort Worth criminal defense attorney could use to help you get your terroristic threat charge dismissed.

Alibi

Did the alleged victim make up the entire incident? Were you at a different place at the time of the alleged threat? A very effective criminal defense is to locate every piece of objective evidence establishing that you were not present at the time and place the alleged victim claims you made the terroristic threat.

For example, an ex-wife gets angry and claims to the police that her ex-husband came to her house and threated her, placing her in fear of serious bodily injury or death. The ex-husband is approached by a detective and accused of committing terroristic threat against a family member. Our client was able to obtain pictures and ticket stubs establishing he was at a music concert at the time he allegedly came to his ex-wife’s house and made the threat. After presenting this alibi evidence to the detective, the criminal investigation was dismissed and the client was able to push for his ex-wife to be arrested and charged with false report to a police officer

Absence of Terroristic Threat

It is critical to remember that the State of Texas must prove the elements of terroristic threat beyond a reasonable doubt. The primary element of terroristic threat is a threat must have been made. Many times, alleged victims will claim that they were threatened because they were emotional and overreacting to information they received. It is easy to take words out of context and draw conclusions that made the alleged victim subjectively interprets as threatening but a third party objective observer would not conclude to be threatening.

For example, we have represented clients that were charged with terroristic threat because the alleged victim claimed to be threatened because both parties raised their voices and became very emotional. In this situation, the alleged victim didn’t like the “aggressive” way our client looked at them and pieced together information, coupled with their emotions, to reach a conclusion that they felt “threatened.” I have no doubt the alleged victim believed they felt this way but the specific intent of the client was not to make a threat and any objective third party would reach a conclusion that no threat was made.

Lack Of Criminal Intent

To sustain a conviction in a jury trial, the Tarrant County prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the specific intent to make a terroristic threat. As a result, even if a threat was made, the prosecutor must prove that you had the necessary intent place the alleged victim in fear or serious bodily injury or death. If you did not have the necessary intent, the crime of terroristic threat has not been committed. However, remember that even if you did not have the specific intent to place the alleged victim in fear or serious bodily injury, if the alleged victim articulates facts sufficient to convince a detective that they were in fear of serious bodily injury or death, you could still be facing a charge of assault under Texas criminal law.

State Unable To Prove Beyond A Reasonable Doubt

In every criminal case in the State of Texas, the burden of proving the crime always rests on the prosecution. If you or a loved one has been charged with the crime of terroristic threat, you are not required to prove anything. In fact, under US and Texas Constitutions, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. It may not feel that way when you are treated poorly by a criminal detective or the court system but your criminal defense attorney must explore all options and legal defenses to hold the State of Texas to their burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

If your criminal attorney is able to partner with you and provide the other side of the story regarding what actually took place with the alleged terroristic threat, you may be able to establish reasonable doubt regarding the crime. The more doubt you and your criminal lawyer can create, the more leverage you have in negotiating a dismissal of your terroristic threat charges.

Affidavit of Non-Prosecution

What if the victim has calmed down and now regrets calling the police or claiming they were in fear of serious bodily injury or death? This happens frequently with terrorist threat – family member cases. The alleged victim calls the police because they are very upset and emotional and when the police arrive, they overreact to their experience and open themselves to direct questions from the police that can be easily misinterpreted. This misinterpreted information can be used to establish probable cause for an arrest and prosecution of terroristic threat charges.

If the alleged victim is willing to provide an affidavit of non-prosecution, your criminal defense attorney can use this as a tool to make sure the truth regarding what happened is exposed to the prosecutor. Because the prosecutor always has the burden to prove the terroristic threat charge beyond a reasonable doubt, an affidavit of non-prosecution clearing up the facts of what took place can help resolve your terroristic threat charge for a possible dismissal. If the affidavit of non-prosecution establishes not only that the alleged victim does not want to prosecute, but also makes it clear that no objective threat was made and/or the alleged victim was never in fear of serious bodily injury or death, the prosecutor will have a very difficult time proving a terroristic threat or assault by threat charge. However, you only get one shot at providing a detailed affidavit of non-prosecution to the prosecutor. It is critical that you work with an experienced criminal defense law firm that has a proven track record of getting terroristic threat charges dismissed.

You Need A Team Of Criminal Defense Lawyers that fight on your behalf.

A terroristic threat conviction in Fort Worth or surrounding city in Tarrant County, Texas will be on your criminal record for the rest of your life. An employer may be alarmed when a potential employee has been convicted of terroristic threat. If you have been arrested and charged with terroristic threat in Fort Worth, Arlington or surrounding cities in Tarrant County, you need an aggressive and knowledgeable team of criminal defense lawyers on your side. A terroristic threat conviction in Fort Worth could carry with it the prospect of jail time and/or fines of up to $10,000. At the Fulgham Law Firm P.C. our goal is to prevent jail time, fines or conviction and to achieve a result that helps you clear your criminal record and put this behind you. Give our criminal law office a call today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case in further detail.

Call us right now to get help.

(817) 877-3030

We’ve helped hundreds of people in Texas and we can help you too. We’ll set you up with a free conversation with Mr. Fulgham which will help you know what to do next. The Fulgham Law Firm serves Fort Worth and Tarrant county areas.