Terroristic Threats

Under Texas Penal Code § 22.07(a)(2), the law prohibits threats of family violence with the intent to place the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, which is also called "making a terroristic threat."

A threat is defined as, “a declaration of intention or determination to inflict punishment, loss or pain on another, or to injure another by the commission of an unlawful act.” Black's Law Dictionary 1480 (6th ed. 1990). A person acts intentionally, or with intent, with respect to the nature of his conduct or to a result of his conduct when it is his conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or cause the result. Tex. Pen.Code Ann. § 6.03(a).

Imminent has been defined as meaning “near at hand; mediate rather than immediate; close rather than touching; impending; on the point of happening; threatening; menacing; perilous.” Devine v. State, 786 S.W.2d 268, 270 (Tex.Cr.App.1989). In other words, the accused's threat of violence, made with the intent to place the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, is what constitutes the offense. The prosecutor will often argue that the requisite intent can be inferred from the acts, words, and conduct of the accused.

Attorney for Making a Terroristic Threat in San Antonio, TX

If you are accused of making a terroristic threat or a threat of family violence, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Flanary Law Firm, PLLC in San Antonio, TX. Don Flanary represents clients charged with related charges for domestic violence, stalking, and harassment throughout Bexar County, TX.

Call (210) 738-8383 today to discuss your case.


The Threat Need Only Place a Person in Fear

Section 22.07 does not require the victim or anyone else to be actually placed in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Dues v. State, 634 S.W.2d at 305. The offense is complete if the accused, by his threat, sought as a desired reaction, to place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Id. at 306. It is immaterial to the offense whether the accused had the capability or the intention to carry out his threat. Id. at 305.

A person commits the misdemeanor offense of terroristic threat if he “threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to ... place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury....” Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 22.07(a)(2) (Vernon 1994).


Penalties for Terroristic Threats in San Antonio, TX

Texas Penal Code § 22.07(a)(2), provides that a person commits the offense of terroristic threat if he “threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person ... with intent to place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.” An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor unless the offense is committed against a member of the threatened person's family or household or otherwise constitutes family violence, in which case it is a Class A misdemeanor. See id. at § 22.07(c)(1).

Relevant to the allegations involved in this case, “family violence” includes an act, other than a defensive measure, that is a threat that reasonably places the victim in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault. See id. at § 22.07(f)(2); Texas Family Code § 71.004.


Definition of Imminent

For purposes of an offense committed under section 22.07 of the Penal Code, “imminent” is not defined in the Penal Code. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has, however, defined that term to mean “ready to take place, near at hand; impending, hanging threateningly over one's head, menacingly near.” See Garcia v. State, 367 S.W.3d 683, 689 (Tex. Crim. App. 2012) (construing “imminent” in the context of an offense under section 22.041 of the Penal Code pertaining to abandoning or endangering children).

Under this definition, threatening to commit an act could cause fear of imminent serious bodily injury if, in the mind of the victim, the commission of the act was “near at hand” or “hanging threateningly over one's head.”

What constitutes the offense of terroristic threat is the threat to commit a violent act with the intent to create fear of imminent serious bodily injury. The courts have found that whether the accused had the temporal or physical ability to actually carry the threat out at that moment is immaterial. See Williams v. State, 432 S.W.3d 450, 453 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2014, pet. ref'd) (citing Dues v. State, 634 S.W.2d 304, 305 (Tex. Crim. App. [Panel Op.] 1982)).

“[I]t is not necessary that the victim or anyone else was actually placed in fear of imminent serious bodily injury” if the actor acted with the intent to create that fear. See Heinert v. Wichita Falls Housing Authority, 441 S.W.3d 810, 818 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2014, no pet.) Instead, the intent to place the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury can be inferred from the acts, words, and conduct of the accused. Cook, 940 S.W.2d at 347.


Find a Lawyer for Terroristic Threats in Bexar County, TX

If you are accused of making threats of family violence with the intent to place the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.

A person commits the offense of terroristic threat if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person ... with intent to place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Tex. Pen.Code Ann. § 22.07(a)(2). Call us to discuss this serious crime and possible defenses that might apply in your case.

The attorneys at Flanary Law Firm, PLLC represent clients charged with terroristic threats, cyber-stalking, harassment.


This article was last updated on Friday, May 11, 2017.

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