In today’s world, terrorism is a real threat that is taken very seriously, but sometimes police and members of the public overreact out of fear and ethnic or religious biases. Overreacting is especially common in Beaver County and throughout the rest of Pennsylvania thanks to the number of residents who have very clear memories and feelings of fear from the 9/11 plane that was brought down by terrorism right here in our state. Terroristic threat charges attorneys know that while overreaction and bias due to fear exist, it is unfair and it is especially unfair when overreaction and bias result in terroristic threat charges.
Under Pennsylvania law, generally a terroristic threat involves a person directly or indirectly communicating a threat of violence to terrorize others that causes evacuation of a building, public transportation facility, place of assembly, or otherwise causes public inconvenience. This is a rather broad definition especially when you look at the fact that a terroristic threat can be broken down into “indirectly communicating” a threat of violence that causes “public inconvenience.”
In some cases this definition may seem to cover an offhanded comment that caused a highly sensitive person to raise an alarm or it may have been a comment made that should be protected by the First Amendment Freedom of Speech and Religion. Applying and construing terroristic threat laws and balancing them with First Amendment protections can be complicated and that is why it is so important to obtain the services of a knowledgeable and experienced terroristic threat defense attorney if you have been charged with a terror threat crime.
Terroristic threat conviction consequences
Upon a conviction of terroristic threat, there can be severe consequences including the following:
Defending a terroristic threat case
In order to successfully defend a terroristic threat charge, hiring an attorney with expertise in this area is critical. A good attorney will first and foremost investigate all facts and circumstances related to the charges including reviewing police reports, witness statements, and examining police conduct. It is important to look into whether or not there was any racial or religious profiling involved and to thoroughly examine all evidence against the defendant and how it was obtained. When evidence is obtained illegally, it is generally not admissible against defendants and can result in cases being dismissed.
Other important investigation aspects include looking into the credibility and motivations of the accuser or witness. False and unethical witnesses with a grudge or bias can cause a tremendous amount of trouble for innocent defendants, which is why it is such an important component of a defense attorney’s investigation. As mentioned above, it is also important to investigate whether or not the defendant’s first amendment rights have been violated.