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.
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.
THE MOST COMMONLY SEEN THREAT THAT LEADS TO A CHARGE OF TERRORISTIC THREATS IS A THREAT TO KILL SOMEONE.
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.
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.”
“TRANSITORY ANGER” IS NOT FOUND IN THE MINNESOTA TERRORISTIC THREATS STATUTE, BUT IT IS A PART OF THE HISTORY OF THE CRIME OF TERRORISTIC THREATS IN MINNESOTA.
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.
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.
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.