Utah Criminal Code 76-5-107.3: Threat Of Terrorism–Penalty
1. A person commits a threat of terrorism if the person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and:
a) threatens the use of a weapon of mass destruction, as defined in Section 76-10-401 ; or
b) threatens the use of a hoax weapon of mass destruction, as defined in Section 76-10-401 ; or acts with intent to:
I. intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence or affect the conduct of a government or a unit of government;
II. prevent or interrupt the occupation of a building or a portion of the building, a place to which the public has access, or a facility or vehicle of public transportation operated by a common carrier; or
III. cause an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies to take action due to the person’s conduct posing a serious and substantial risk to the general public.
2. A violation of Subsection (1)(a) or (1)(b)(i) is a second degree felony.
a) A violation of Subsection (1)(b)(ii) is a third degree felony.
b) A violation of Subsection (1)(b)(iii) is a class B misdemeanor.
3. It is not a defense under this section that the person did not attempt to carry out or was incapable of carrying out the threat.
4. A threat under this section may be express or implied.
5. A person who commits an offense under this section is subject to punishment for that offense, in addition to any other offense committed, including the carrying out of the threatened act.
6. In addition to any other penalty authorized by law, a court shall order any person convicted of any violation of this section to reimburse any federal, state, or local unit of government, or any private business, organization, individual, or entity for all expenses and losses incurred in responding to the violation, unless the court states on the record the reasons why the reimbursement would be inappropriate.
A “terroristic threat” can be defined as a threat to commit a crime of violence with the intent to terrorize another, to cause a building to be evacuated, or to cause serious public panic or inconvenience made with reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror and/or inconvenience. It can also be defined as “making a willful, unequivocal threat with the specific intent to cause people reasonable fear.” This crime is a product of the last decade or so, enacted at both the state and federal levels, after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The crime of making a terrorist threat is a very general law, and can be used to prosecute terrorists; however, it has been more commonly used to prosecute other violations of criminal law, such as domestic violence, hate crimes, bomb threats, and school violence. In many states, the term “terrorist” has been conflated with “criminal.” Some state laws have a very narrow definition of terroristic threat, meaning the threat must be very specific and direct, while other states have a more broad definition, allowing even the most negligently made threats to be worthy of prosecution. It is important to note that making a false report of terrorism is not the same as making a terroristic threat, and the two are separate charges. Freedom of speech is a constitutionally protected right, and one widely regarded as an essential liberty in American life. However, this freedom is not a blanket protection that encompasses every possible instance, manner, and quality of speech. Lawmakers and courts have long recognized that some damaging or dangerous forms of speech should be prohibited. Making a terrorist threat is one such form of speech that is prohibited.
What Are The Elements of a Terroristic Threat In Utah?
For a threat to be considered terroristic in nature, it must meet the following criteria:
• Willful Threat: Someone willfully threatens to commit a crime resulting in the death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the threat is to be taken as a threat regardless of the intent to actually follow through. Clearly, the threat needs to be of a highly dangerous nature. For example, simply threatening to slash someone’s tires would not likely be considered dangerous enough to be considered a willful threat. For the threat to be considered willful, it can be made in writing, verbally or electronically transmitted.
• Specific Intent: The threat must be made with the specific intent that it be taken as such. Although that may seem like common knowledge, and also redundant, this means that the threat itself is a crime, even if there is no intent to actually carry out what is being threatened. Thus, if you threaten to bomb a school, you will still be guilty of this crime whether or not you follow through with your threat. This is true even if you are unarmed and have no means of following through with your threat.
• Unequivocal, Unconditional, and Specific: “The threat is unequivocal, unconditional, and specific, so as to convey a gravity of purpose and immediate prospect of execution.” This very complicated statement is of great importance to the law, so, to simplify; you must satisfy all of these requirements:
a) Unequivocal: The threat must be a direct statement of what you will do, rather than what you can do.
b) Unconditional: This is a rather gray area, as some courts have directly held that conditional threats (if–then statements such as “if you–then I’ll”) do qualify. Presumably, the fewer conditions used, the more likely the court is to rule it as a threat.
c) Specific: The threat cannot be vague. Vague threats include statements such as, “if you don’t do or not do X, then something bad will happen.”
• Caused Fear: The threat actually caused the victim to fear the thing you threatened. A person must actually believe the threat you made for you to be arrested for it.
• The Fear was Reasonable: The threat must be reasonable. For example, if you threaten to attack a building using your spaceship, it is very unlikely that any reasonable person could reasonably fear this threat.
Terrorist Threat Penalties
Defendants convicted of making terrorist threats face a range of possible penalties. Some states categorize the crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony, or both, depending on the nature of the circumstances. The penalties involved for a terrorist threat typically include one or more of the following:
• Incarceration: Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor offense for making a terrorist or criminal threat faces up to one year in a county jail. For a felony conviction, a court can impose a prison sentence of a year or more. Depending on the state and the nature of the threat, a conviction for making a terrorist threat can result in a prison sentence of 40, and even 100 or more years in prison.
• Fines: Fines for making a terrorist threat vary widely. Some states impose no minimum fine, while others impose minimum fines of as little as $200 or as much as $10,000. Maximum fines for making a terrorist threat can exceed $250,000.
• Restitution: Courts may also order a person convicted of making a terrorist threat to pay restitution. Restitution is similar to a fine, but instead of paying it to the state, the convicted person pays restitution to the victims of the terrorist threat in order to compensate them for any damages they suffered as a result of the crime.
• Probation: In misdemeanor cases, and even in some felony cases, a court can sentence a person convicted of making a terrorist threat to a probation term. The length of the term differs widely, but typically lasts 6 months or more, depending on the circumstances of the case and state sentencing rules. Courts may also order probation after the defendant has served a jail sentence, and may also require the convicted person to pay a fine or restitution.
Each state has its own set of punishments for the crime of making a terrorist threat. Punishment ranges depend on whether you are charged with a state or federal crime. Punishments levied upon you can be as little as one year in a county jail. In other instances, especially under federal law, penalties include: Punishment up to life in prison (including being placed on a no-fly list if the threat concerns the use of a biological weapon, and was made on an aircraft); Punishment up to five years in prison for mailing communications that contain any threat to injure the addressee, or others; or Five years in prison for those who lie to law enforcement officials about terrorist hoaxes.
In light of the notorious 9/11 terrorist attacks, something as simple as a phoned–in threat of terror can land you in prison for up to twenty years. It is a crime that is not and should not be taken lightly, at either the state or the federal level. You should absolutely seek out a knowledgeable and qualified criminal defense attorney if you have been charged or are facing charges of making terrorist threats.
Terrorism has been a grave concern throughout the country and around the world. Whether perpetrated by foreign nationals with a vendetta against the U.S. government or radical groups within the country, political violence seems increasingly common (and in many ways it is). Regardless of its source, this particularly heinous crime involves acts meant to inflict terror on a particular group of people through deadly and provocative means. Federal laws prohibit terrorism and terroristic threats (threatening to detonate a bridge if your demands aren’t met, for instance), while most states also have anti-terrorism laws and procedures in place. Most crimes punish an act itself. The intent of the person carrying out the act may affect the defenses available or the severity of the punishment; but in the case of terrorism the intent of the person is critical to the definition of the crime because of its very nature. To commit terrorism is to intend a particular goal through causing fear in others. Federal code (18 U.S. Code, Chapter 113B) defines it as acts (or attempted acts) of violence that appear intended to:
• Intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
• Influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
• Affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.
Most acts of terrorism or terroristic threats would be considered a crime regardless of the intent of the person responsible. These acts, such as shootings, bombings, and other acts of violence would result in criminal liability regardless of the intent or purpose of the perpetrators. These crimes become terrorism when they are intended to intimidate civilians and the government. In many circumstances, intent is difficult to prove. Normally, the burden of proving intent is on the prosecution, but in the case of terrorism, acts that “appear to be intended” to intimidate or coerce may still qualify as terroristic crimes without additional evidence.
The penalties for terrorism and terroristic threats are severe. Penalties include:
• Imprisonment for any term, including life, or the death penalty for acts that result in a person’s death;
• Imprisonment for any term, including life, for kidnapping;
• Imprisonment for up to 35 years for maiming;
• Imprisonment for up to 30 years for assault with a dangerous weapon, or an assault resulting in serious bodily injury;
• Imprisonment for up to 25 years for destruction of property;
• Imprisonment for any term of years up to the maximum for the underlying offense for attempts or conspiracy; and
• Imprisonment for up to 10 years for threats.
These penalties are strict enough in themselves, but federal law also prevents the convicted from serving these sentences concurrently with others.
More than half of the states have some form of anti-terrorism law(s), often providing guidance for terrorism charges regardless of whether the act is domestic or international in scope. While an act of domestic terrorism involving a bomb threat against government officials wouldn’t be charged as “terrorism” at the federal level, state laws often allow for specific terrorism charges.
Terms Used In Utah Code 76-5-107.3
• Act: means a voluntary bodily movement and includes speech.
• Bodily injury: means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.
• Conduct: means an act or omission
• Felony: A crime carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.
• Misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.
• Offense: means a violation of any penal statute of this state.
• Person: means an individual, public or private corporation, government, partnership, or unincorporated association.
• Property: includes both real and personal property.
• State: when applied to the different parts of the United States, includes a state, district, or territory of the United States.
Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you need to defend against Threat Of Terrorism Charges in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506