NJ harassment lawyer

Terroristic Threat Charges

New Jersey charges thousands of people each year with Terroristic Threats.

The name of the charge has nothing to do with global terrorism.

Rather, as the name suggests, you are accused of threatening someone in such a way that they are “terrorized”.

In other words, your words must “threaten” the victim so that he/she suffers a very real fear that you will harm them.

In my experience, these cases fall into two categories. The first category (small amount of cases) deals with situations where the person making the threat really did strike fear into the heart of the victim. An example of this is where a high school student tells his teachers or classmates that he’s going to shoot everyone. 

Check out this article in The New York Times.

Given our nation’s recent tragedies, these types of threats cannot be taken lightly. An immediate arrest and subsequent investigation makes total sense. 

The rest of this article deals with the second category of cases.

These types of cases are by far the largest and most frequently arise out of Domestic Violence arrests.

Before I discuss this area of New Jersey law in more depth, here’s a few words for victims of Domestic Violence.

If you feel that you are a victim of Domestic Violence, there’s a lot of help out there. 

You can file for a Restraining Order and get protection from whoever you fear.

For more information, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Here’s their web address: https://www.thehotline.org/

So, what is an Example of a Terroristic Threat?

This is a very difficult question to answer.

Examples have to be understood in the context in which they were said.

For example, the same exact words will have a completely different meaning depending on how they were said, where they were said, who they were said to, and why they were said.

Let’s use the words, “I will shoot you!”

Example 1:

Two brothers are eating pizza while watching Sunday afternoon football. 

As one brother gets up to go to the bathroom he tells his older brother, “If you touch my slice, I will shoot you.”

Terroristic Threat?

I’m leaning towards no.

Example 2: 

A concerned parent meets with her son’s high school guidance counselor. During their meeting, the parent tells the guidance counselor, “If you don’t get my son a college scholarship, I will shoot you.”

Terroristic Threat?

I’m leaning towards yes.

Example 3: 

Two married couples are out having dinner. The subject of infidelity comes up. After gulping his fifth glass of wine, one of the men turns to his wife and says, “If you ever cheat on me, I will shoot you.”

I’m leaning towards “I don’t know. I need more information”.

In each example, the words were identical, but the setting or context where the person said them was different.

In the law, these differences are called the “Totality of the Circumstances”.

Are you with me so far?

Cool, let’s move on.

Can I Be Charged With Making Terroristic Threats For
"Just Making A Comment"?

In one word: yes.

As I just explained through different examples, a simple comment made at the wrong time, in the wrong tone, and to the wrong person could result in your arrest.

Now I understand that from time to time, we all make innocent comments that inevitably offend people.

The problem is that what we say and how we say can very easily get twisted.

You had no intention of “terrorizing” anyone but that’s not how they took it.

I can’t tell you how many hundreds, or probably thousands, of these “Terroristic Threats” case we’ve handled over the years. 

In my opinion, it is the most frequently charged crime in New Jersey.

Next time you try to make a comment, think about how it could get misinterpreted.

Is making the comment really worth getting arrested?

Can I Be Charged With Making
Terroristic Threats for"Texting"?


Your text to the victim is the number one piece of evidence that the police will use to arrest and charge you.

Think about it.

Your text is a written communication that stays on the victim’s phone.

You have no control over it after you send it.

The person you text controls everything that was written before & after (context) your message.

When the victim files a complaint, your statement stands alone. 

All the police need is your message to generate the complaint.

Can Terroristic Threat Charges Get Dismissed?

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Every criminal charge in New Jersey can get dismissed!

Of course, this includes Terroristic Threat charges.

Two of the most common ways that these charges get dismissed are when the alleged victim dismissed them OR when your defense attorney successfully persuades the prosecutor to dismiss.

As criminal defense attorneys, we conduct a thorough investigation of your case and prepare the best defense possible.

During our investigation, we collect every bit of evidence that proves your innocence.

Basically, we uncover the truth and show the prosecutor that there is more than meets the eye.

This process requires patience and professionalism. It’s not a matter of showing up and court and aggressively confronting the prosecutor.

Instead, it’s all about presenting our side of the story in the light most favorable to you (our client).

Always keep in mind that neither the prosecutor, nor the judge were present when you allegedly threatened someone in such a way that they feared for their life.

It is our job to re-create the event and all of the circumstances surrounding the statement you made.

This takes a lot of time and work but we love what we do.

What happens if you have a weak case?

Let’s talk about the consequences of a conviction.

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How Much Time do you get for a
Terroristic Threat Conviction in NJ?

A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he/she is convicted of this crime.

You will face 3- 5 years in state prison.

For more on How Crimes Are Graded, click here.

Bonus Q & A
Why were there so many charges
added to my Terroristic Threat Charges?

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You were probably charged with a bundle of crimes.

Do not panic, this is very common.

You were charged with multiple crimes because the same “act” could fit  the description of different crimes.

Depending on the information the police have available to them, they can generate a complaint for many crimes.

It is our job when we go to court for you to iron everything out.

In addition to Terroristic Threat charges, the police probably charged you with some or all of the following:

Simple Assault; and


Stalking; and

Criminal Mischief; and

many others.

Final Thoughts

Do you remember our discussion from the beginning of this article?

I explained how Terroristic Threat charges fall into two categories.

The smaller category (less frequent) is the more serious category. If you threatened a public official or made an outrageous claim to kill someone, you should be concerned since these cases are more difficult to defend.

The larger category (more frequent) is the less serious category. If you said something in anger or made a comment that was taken out of context, the case can be more easily defended.

Regardless of which type of Terroristic Threat charge you are defending, do the right thing and hire an attorney.

The consequences of a conviction are too serious to fight alone.

Hire us to fight for you.

We are really good at it!

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