Juvenile Terroristic Threats in NJ

It may have just started off as a funny prank but soon escalated out of control. Offenses relating to Terroristic Threats have been becoming more prevalent in New Jersey in recent years. If your child was charged, or may be charged, with making terroristic threats and was under the age of 18 at the time of the offense, the criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John F. Marshall are available for your family’s assistance. Most of these complaints are based on he said/she said type allegations, and therefore will often make the delinquency hearing particularly important. Therefore, it is essential for your child and family to retain a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney if they have been arrested or charged. Our lawyers represent juveniles throughout New Jersey, including Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Ocean County, Mercer County, Union County, Somerset County, Morris County, Essex County, Hudson County and Bergen County. We can address you and your child’s questions and concerns, and initial consultations with our lawyers are always free of charge.

The NJ Terroristic Threats Law

NJ Terroristic Threats law applies to juveniles as well adult offenders and is contained in N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3. A charge of terroristic threats is usually a third degree offense if he threatens to kill another with the purpose of putting them in imminent fear of death or if the offender threatens to commit a violent crime with the purpose to evacuate a building, facility of public transportation, or other public meeting place or somehow else cause a serious public inconvenience. A terroristic threat can be upgraded to a second degree if you make the threat during a period of national emergency (also includes state and county emergency level). This crime carries strict liability and it is not a defense to the crime that you did not know that a period of emergency had been declared.

Explanation of the Law

Terroristic threats are traditionally seen in context of Domestic Violence, however, the circumstances giving rise to this charge need not have anything to do with a domestic relationship. All that is required is (1) the accused made a threat; (2) the threat was to commit an offense of violence; and (3) the threat had the purpose of terrorizing or acted with reckless disregard of the risk that third parties would react in this manner. The threat can be to cause physical harm to someone or their property, or to inflict harm on somebody they care about. If a reasonable person would believe the threat was imminent, and that the person could carry it out, then there is a terroristic threat. Courts weigh particular facts of each case and whether a reasonable person in that situation would believe the threat. Given this standard, selection of the right trial lawyer who knows how to properly argue the facts and law is important. The criminal lawyers at our law firm make sure that the prosecution has the arduous task of proving each and every element of the charge.

Terroristic Threats as Applied to Juveniles

Typically, a terroristic threat offense is a Third Degree crime. However, when the offense is committed during a period of national, state or county emergency, it is a crime of the Second Degree. When a juvenile is charged with making terroristic threats the court holds a hearing to determine if delinquency exists. If a juvenile is found delinquent, meaning they would be found guilty of the crime if they were an adult, then the court may make a custodial or non-custodial disposition. The court makes this decision by weighing a long list of mitigating and aggravating factors such as age and past offenses and deciding an appropriate disposition based on one of the many punishments specified in N.J.S. 2A:4A-43, 2A:4A-44 and 2A:4A-48. Such punishments can often be less severe for first time juvenile offenders than sentences that attach to adult offenders and can include community service, probation, parental supervision, or admittance into a juvenile detention center or “boot camp”, etc. Since terroristic threats are 3rd or 2nd degree offenses, depending on the circumstances, they bring with them the possibility of incarceration. The maximum terms for juveniles under 2A:4A-44(d)(1) are 3 years for a 2nd degree offense and 2 years for a 3rd degree offense.

Terroristic Threat arrests and charges are often very defensible, but because of the seriousness of the offense it is important to retain an experienced attorney that can help your child achieve the best possible outcome and avoid incarceration. These types of juvenile cases are very fact sensitive a knowledgeable and well prepared attorney can be invaluable. The attorneys at our law firm offer these services and are prepared to defend your child throughout New Jersey, Monmouth County, Union County, Somerset County, Essex County, Ocean County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Morris County, Essex County, Hudson County and Bergen County. If your son or daughter has been arrested or charged with a making a Terroristic Threat, the lawyers at our law office will explore all of your juvenile child’s defenses and develop a plan and strategy to defend them. A criminal lawyer is available to speak to you and your child immediately.