What is Involved in a Terrorist Threat?
The State of California takes terrorist and bomb threats very seriously. Generally speaking, terrorist threats occur when an individual threatens to kill or hurt persons with the intention of intimidating others. For instance, threatening to set off a bomb at a local school is an example of a terrorist threat. Threatening emails sent to an abortion clinic or religious establishment could be interpreted as terrorist threats as well.
Sometimes, terrorist threats involve individual threats made against local families for their religious, political, or ethnic association. Terrorist threats are made over the phone, in writing, by email, or through any other electronic means. Any action or message that is used to instill fear in a person or group of people can be viewed as a terrorist threat. CA Code § 422 and CA Code § 148.1 address terrorist and bomb threats.
Understanding California Penal Code § 422
CA Penal Code § 422 addresses terrorist threats in the State of California. To convict an individual, prosecutors must be able to demonstrate that you threatened to kill or cause significant bodily injury. The threat must be made against another person or persons and is only considered a terrorist threat if the act is intentional and deliberate. In other words, the action is not a threat unless it was intended to be hostile.
If the action or message is misconstrued or misinterpreted, the defendant did not actually commit an offense under CA Penal Code § 422. Finally, prosecution must demonstrate that the message actually caused a significant amount of reasonable fear. If the fear was unfounded or irrational, the defendant did not actually threaten an act of terrorism.
Bomb Threats in California
According to CA Penal Code § 148.1, any person who falsely reports that a bomb was placed or will be placed in private or public place may be accused of making a bomb threat. This is a criminal offense, punishable by one year in jail. False bomb threats can be reported to television stations, radio stations, airport employees, Department of Justice employees, building occupants, bus employees, railroad employees, news reporters, and other individuals.
According to CA Penal Code § 148.1(c), any person who maliciously gives information about a bomb threat to someone else is guilty of an offense punishable by one year in a state prison or county jail. CA Penal Code § 148.1(d) states that, in order to be convicted of making a bomb threat, the defendant must intend to scare others or threaten the safety of others.
Penalties for Terrorist & Bomb Threats
In the California, terrorist threats can be charged as misdemeanor or felony offenses. The severity of the accusation is typically related to the severity of the threat. Prosecutors may accuse the defendant of a felony offense if the alleged act led to serious consequences. If the threat was relatively insignificant, the defendant may only face a misdemeanor charge. Common penalties include incarceration (in a county jail or federal prison), parole, fines, probation, and loss of rights. For instance, a felony terrorist threat conviction could result in the loss of your right to possess, own, or use a firearm.
Defending from a Terrorist Threat Accusations
Facing a bomb threat or terrorist threat accusation may be one of the toughest challenges you ever face. You might feel hopeless and overwhelmed after an arrest, but a skilled terrorist threat attorney can help you avoid an unnecessary conviction. After a terrorist threat, overzealous law enforcement officers can easily arrest or investigate the wrong person. Similarly, harmless remarks, emails, or messages could be misunderstood as a threat.
Common defense strategies include:
- Lack of evidence
- Freedom of speech
- Mistaken identity
If you or a loved one was arrested for making a terrorist threat or bomb threat in the Orange County area, the Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman can help you avoid the heavy penalties associated with a terrorist threat conviction. At the firm, Attorney Goodman is wholly committed to providing the best criminal defense representation in Orange County that she can offer. Attorney Goodman has protected the rights of the accused in Orange County for 20 years. With nearly two decades of experience behind her, Jacqueline Goodman is ready to fight for your rights in court.