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NJ Lawyer Defends Terroristic Threat Charges – NJSA 2C:12-3

18
Aug
2011

by in Criminal Defense

New Jersey Terroristic Threats Defense

New Jersey police commonly file Terroristic Threats charges in a variety of contexts. Many people are surprised to find themselves facing felony charges for seemingly minor acts. If you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey for this charge, you need an experienced defense attorney. I represent both adults and juveniles accused of terroristic threats in New Jersey.

Terroristic Threat charges are sometimes filed after domestic violence incidences. An important thing to keep in mind when facing this kind of charge is that the victim does not have the final say in whether the charges should be dismissed when the police sign the complaint. This can lead to frustration when the couple soon reconciles.

With the emergence of the internet, Facebook and text messaging, all users of these mediums need to be mindful of what they are posting and sending. Silly disputes can escalate into very serious criminal charges when social media are used to send threats.

NJSA 2C:12-3

New Jersey Terroristic Threat law is codified in NJSA 2C:12-3. The statute reads:

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.

NJ Terroristic Threat Law

In order to be considered a substantive “threat” under the statute, the words must be of a nature that would convey menace or fear to an ordinary hearer under the circumstances, and (2) while an intent to menace or frighten is necessary, neither intent to carry out the threat nor the actual inducement of fear are elements of the offense. State v. Milano, 167 N.J. Super. 318, 400 A.2d 854, 1979 N.J. Super. LEXIS 691 (Law Div. 1979), affirmed by 172 N.J. Super. 361, 412 A.2d 129, 1980 N.J. Super. LEXIS 447 (App.Div. 1980).

As the jury found defendant guilty of making terroristic threats against the alleged rape victim, that is, threatening to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:12-3), that finding met a required element for second degree sexual assault (N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:14-2(c)(1)): the actor’s use of physical force or coercion. State v. Drury, 382 N.J. Super. 469, 889 A.2d 1087, 2006 N.J. Super. LEXIS 16 (App.Div. 2006), affirmed in part and reversed in part by, remanded by 190 N.J. 197, 919 A.2d 813, 2007 N.J. LEXIS 447 (2007).

Defendant’s five-year sentence for third-degree terroristic threats was invalid under State v. Natale, 878 A.2d 724 (2005), because it exceeded the four-year presumptive term in effect at the time, and was based on more than defendant’s prior record. State v. Drury, 382 N.J. Super. 469, 889 A.2d 1087, 2006 N.J. Super. LEXIS 16 (App.Div. 2006), affirmed in part and reversed in part by, remanded by 190 N.J. 197, 919 A.2d 813, 2007 N.J. LEXIS 447 (2007).

Defendant’s conviction for terroristic threat, under N.J. Stat. 2C:12-3(a), was reversed where the jury charges were flawed, as they failed to instruct and define “any crime of violence,” as required, so that the jury was left to speculate as to the crimes that would be adequate for conviction. State v. MacIlwraith, 344 N.J. Super. 544, 782 A.2d 964, 2001 N.J. Super. LEXIS 399 (App.Div. 2001).

Person who is threatened by telephone can be the victim of a terroristic threat, under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:12-3. State v. Maxwell, 361 N.J. Super. 502, 825 A.2d 1224, 2001 N.J. Super. LEXIS 522 (Law Div. 2001), affirmed by 361 N.J. Super. 401, 825 A.2d 1162, 2003 N.J. Super. LEXIS 217 (App.Div. 2003).

Defendant’s conviction for making terroristic threats in violation of N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:12-3(b) was upheld where it was found that defendant was infected with HIV and threatened to kill correctional officers by biting and spitting at them; the test under the statute was not whether it was possible to carry out the threats, but rather the reasonableness of the victim’s fear. State v. Smith, 262 N.J. Super. 487, 621 A.2d 493, 1993 N.J. Super. LEXIS 63 (App.Div. 1993).

In defendant’s trial for armed robbery, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:15-1, terroristic threats, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:12-3, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-4(a), and possession of a handgun without a permit N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:39-5(b), admission of defendant’s out-of-court identification was not harmless error because the procedures used were impermissibly suggestive, and required a hearing to determine existence of an independent source for the in-court identification. State v. Madison, 109 N.J. 223, 536 A.2d 254, 1988 N.J. LEXIS 7 (1988).

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