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The Minnesota terroristic threats statute punishes anyone who “threatens, directly or indirectly, to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to terrorize another or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror.”

The offense is a felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison.  

If you are facing a terroristic threat charge or know somebody that is, contact the experienced Minnesota criminal defense lawyers at Arechigo & Stokka today.

What Are Terroristic Threats?

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to speak freely without government interference.

The right to free speech is not without some limits, however. There are some things you cannot say, like threatening others with violence.

You may be wondering, How much time can you get for terroristic threats? If so, today, we’ll attempt to answer your questions.

What Is the Terroristic Threats Statute?

If you’re not familiar with it, you may wonder, What is the terroristic threats statute?

Section 609.713 of the Minnesota Statutes is the terroristic threat law.

The law says that threatening to commit a crime of violence with the intent to terrorize another person is a crime.

Additionally, communicating a threat with the intent to cause an evacuation of a building, place of assembly, vehicle, or public transportation facility is a criminal act.

Likewise, making a threat with the intent to cause a serious public inconvenience is a crime.

The threat must be made intentionally or with reckless disregard for causing terror or inconvenience.

Under this section, a crime of violence refers to a criminal act that kills or injures another.

The law also prohibits communicating a threat.

So communicating the presence of explosives, an explosive device, or any incendiary device in a certain location with the intent to cause terror or with reckless disregard for the risk of causing terror is a crime. 

Displaying a replica firearm also falls under the terroristic threats statute.

This section of the law prohibits displaying, brandishing, or employing a replica firearm or BB gun in a threatening manner.

Brandishing a replica firearm that causes another person to feel terror or attempts to cause terror is a crime.

Additionally, acting with reckless disregard as to whether someone may experience terror is also a crime when “flashing” a replica gun.

BB guns are considered replica firearms for the purposes of this law.

Weapons that only fire blanks are also replica weapons under this statute.

A Terroristic Threat Conviction in Minnesota

In order to convict someone under the Minnesota terroristic threats statute, the state must prove that the defendant:

  • Threatened to commit a crime of violence; and
  • Made that threat with either
    • Specific intent to cause extreme fear in another, or
    • Reckless disregard of the risk that it would have that effect.


During an argument – domestic or otherwise – if a person tells someone, “I’m going to kill you,” or “You make me so mad, I could kill you sometimes,” or any type of similar threat to commit a crime of violence, the speaker will almost certainly face a charge of terroristic threats under the Minnesota terroristic threats statute.

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Speaker’s Intent and Defense Charges of Terroristic Threats

The speakers’ intent and the context in which the threat was made can be both a defense against a charge of terroristic threats.

As noted above, the state has to prove that the speaker made the threat with either a specific intent to cause extreme fear in another or with reckless disregard of the risk of causing extreme fear in another.

The context in which the threat was made is a factor in determining the speaker’s intent.

In State v. Balster, the Minnesota Court of Appeals noted that the context in which it is uttered determines whether the speaker intends the literal meaning or a harmless expression of anger, frustration, or annoyance. This is sometimes referred to as “transitory anger.”


Prior cases have concluded that the Minnesota terroristic threats statute is designed to punish threats that are “more serious than would be covered by petty offenses like disorderly conduct or breach of the peace.”

The statute is not intended to apply to “the kind of verbal threat which expresses transitory anger rather than [the] settled purpose to carry out the threat or to terrorize the other person.”

Most terroristic threats charges will turn on whether the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant made the threat with the required intent to make the subject of the threat extremely fearful.  

The defendant, through his or her lawyer, would most certainly urge the jury that the speaker’s threat was a harmless expression of anger, frustration, or annoyance.

What Is the Penalty for Terroristic Threats?

When we first meet with someone charged with making terroristic threats, they often ask, How much time can you get for terroristic threats?

The answer depends on many factors, like your prior criminal history and the specific allegations.

Threatening violence with the intent to terrorize is a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

The court could impose a fine of up to $10,000 on top of the jail sentence. 

Communicating a terroristic threat that explosives, an explosive device, or an incendiary device is located on the premises is also a felony.

You might have heard this crime referred to as calling in a bomb threat.

The maximum prison sentence for this act is three years, and the fine could be as much as $3,000.

Displaying a replica firearm falls under the terroristic threats charge.

Displaying a replica firearm in a threatening manner carries a maximum prison sentence of one year plus one day.

This charge also carries a maximum fine of $3,000.

Threats of Violence Charges Dismissed

State Dismisses Threats of Violence Charge

THE FACTS: Client was charged in felony Threats of Violence, also known as Terroristic Threats, and Carrying a Pistol in Public While Intoxicated in Ramsey County. The charges stemmed from an alleged altercation between defense attorney John Arechigo’s client and another individual in downtown St. Paul. The complainant called police and reported that the client pulled a gun on him and threatened to kill him. The client adamantly denied the complainant’s version of the events, instead insisting that the individual had approached the client, verbally accosted the client, and threatened the client. The client had a permit to carry a concealed firearm and was carrying a pistol on his person at the time of the incident. The client insisted he had only pulled his firearm from its holster as a show of self-defense.

St. Paul Police responded to the scene. Several officers were involved, and all were wearing body cams. The officers interviewed a number of individuals, including the reporting party, the client, and a handful of bystanders. The bystanders largely supported the client’s version of events. In a rush to charge the client, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office determined the reporting party was credible enough to rely on in bringing a Terroristic Threats charge against the client.

THE DEFENSE: Defense lawyer John Arechigo promptly secured the client’s release from jail and began tracking down the body cam footage from the incident. The defense also looked into the reporting party’s history and discovered the individual had a lengthy criminal history, including an active assault warrant. The Ramsey County Attorney failed to look into the credibility of the reporting party prior to filing the serious felony charge of Threats of Violence. The remaining investigation into the incident, including a review of the body cam footage, revealed the reporting party’s version of the event was simply unbelievable. The client’s version of the event proved to be much more believable.

THE RESULT: The county attorney recognized the credibility issues of the reporting party and ultimately dismissed the Threats of Violence charge.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys

Contact our Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation if you or someone you know if facing a charge under the Minnesota Terroristic Threats statute.  

We’ve had terroristic threats charges dismissed for clients. We know how to defend against this charge.

Author Photo John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.

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