St. Paul Criminal Defense Attorney’s Handling Terroristic Threat Charges in Minnesota

Being charged with any crime is stressful, overwhelming, and unnerving. It is especially frightening to see the term “terroristic” listed in the charges filed against you. In Minnesota, making a terroristic threat is a felony offense. 

However, in too many cases, overzealous prosecutors bring this charge in cases in which it is not appropriate. Legally speaking, “terroristic threats” are referred to as “threats of violence.” 

International terrorist organizations or domestic extremist groups are not a necessary component of terroristic threats, and terroristic threats as a charge should not be considered in that light.

That being said, if convicted of making terroristic threats in Minnesota, a defendant could face serious jail time. Strong legal representation is required. 

At Arechigo & Stokka, our top-rated Saint Paul terroristic threat charges defense lawyers are aggressive and experienced advocates for defendants in Minnesota and North Dakota.

If you or your loved one was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats or criminal threats, you need immediate legal assistance.

For a free, strictly confidential initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our Minnesota criminal defense attorneys today. 

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Minnesota Law: Terroristic Threats / Threats of Violence

Under Minnesota state law (Minn. Stat. § 609.713), making a terroristic threat is a felony offense.

To be convicted of this crime, prosecutors must prove that a defendant threatened — either directly or indirectly — to commit a crime of violence with the purpose of terrorizing another party.

Do not be confused by the term ‘terroristic’: state prosecutors do not have to prove that the defendant has any involvement or any relation to an international terrorist organization or to a domestic extremist group.

Making any active threats of violence that are intended to cause fear and terror can result in a person facing this charge.

In fact, the offense was formerly known as “Terroristic Threats,” but was recently changed to “Threats of Violence” to remove this confusion.

Some notable examples of the types of conduct that could potentially result in threats of violence charges being filed in Minnesota include:

  • Calling in a bomb threat;
  • Displaying a weapon or firearm in a threatening manner; and
  • Make verbal or written threats of violence, most commonly in the form of a threat to kill another

In many cases, terroristic threat charges are brought in relation to domestic abuse incidents. Beyond that, these charges can also be filed in a wide range of other circumstances.

Indeed, it is even possible that a person may face terroristic threat charges for a joke or sarcastic comment that went very wrong.

If you or your loved one was charged with making criminal threats of violence in Minnesota, you need to call an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Federal Law: Terroristic Threats

For the most part, terroristic threats are state-level offenses. Minnesota prosecutors handle the majority of criminal threat cases. That being said, defendants may also face federal charges for making terroristic threats or criminal threats.

Under federal law (25 CFR § 11.402), a person could potentially be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor terroristic threat offense.

As a general rule, the federal government will only get involved in the case if the incident is especially serious if the threats involve some type of federal connection — such as a federal building, an airport, the U.S. Postal Service, etc.

If you or your loved one was charged with a federal terroristic threat offense, our Saint Paul, MN federal crimes defense lawyers can help. 

Penalties for Making a Threat of Violence

The penalties for making a criminal threat of violence in Minnesota vary based on many different factors. Though, it is important to understand that being charged under Minn. Stat. § 609.713 is always a very serious matter.

The maximum penalty for felony terroristic threats in Minnesota is five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Beyond that, defendants facing federal terroristic threat charges could be subject to even more severe criminal penalties.

Threats of Violence Charges Dismissed

THE CASE: State Dismisses Threats of Violence Charge in Plea Agreement Reached Prior to Start of Trial

THE FACTS: The client was charged with Felony Threats of Violence after an incident at a local tire shop in Ramsey County. Also known as Terroristic Threats, the felony charge is awfully serious. The charge stood to impact the young client’s future, liberty, and ability to lawfully possess a firearm. The charge stemmed from an allegation that the client pulled a firearm on the shop owner and threatened him with the weapon. The client insisted he engaged in a defensive display of his firearm in response to being threatened by the shop owner. The client maintained that the shop owner verbally threatened to assault him and began to approach him in an aggressive manner. The shop owner was much larger than the client. The client felt his safety was in imminent danger and he displayed his firearm in an act of self-defense.

THE DEFENSE: We retained a self-defense expert to analyze the facts of the case. Our investigation revealed that no security video of the incident existed, despite the shop owner’s assertions to St. Paul Police that the incident would have been recorded. Our investigation further revealed that the lobby of the tire shop is a very small space and that the client would have been backed into a corner with the owner approaching him. We provided our self-defense expert’s report to the Ramsey County prosecutor establishing the basis of our anticipated theory of self-defense at trial. Our expert concluded that the client lawfully acted in self-defense when threatened with serious bodily harm.

CASE RESULT: The prosecutor recognized the unlikelihood of a conviction at trial and offered the client a low-level misdemeanor in a plea agreement reached days before trial. The plea agreement resulted in a minimal fine and no jail.

Our client had a lawful conceal carry permit at the time of the incident. A conviction would have prevented him from lawfully possessing a firearm in the future. It was vital to the client to avoid a felony conviction.

Special Considerations for Cases Involving Juvenile Defendants

In some cases, terrorist/criminal threat charges are brought against juvenile defendants. The classic example may include a student making a bomb threat, either as a joke or otherwise.

As with other juvenile crimes, there are many unique factors and special considerations that must be addressed.

The Minnesota House Research Department notes that rehabilitation is strongly favored for juveniles. When minors are charged with making criminal threats or terroristic threats, every available option for avoiding long-term consequences should be explored.

If your child or underage loved one was arrested and charged with making threats in Minnesota, our top-rated Twin Cities juvenile defense lawyers are standing by, ready to help.

We have deep experience representing minors in all aspects of the Minnesota criminal justice and juvenile justice systems.

How Terroristic Threats Defense Lawyers Can Help

If you or your child was charged with making terroristic threats or other criminal threats of violence, it is imperative that you hire a qualified criminal defense lawyer immediately.

At Arechigo & Stokka, our law firm provides aggressive representation to our clients. We have the skills and legal experience needed to defend clients facing either state charges, federal charges, or both.

Among other things, our Twin Cities terroristic threats defense attorneys are prepared to:

  • Conduct a free, confidential review of the criminal threat charges;
  • Explain the case against you and answer any questions that you may have;
  • Investigate the charges — gathering any exonerating evidence; and
  • Craft a fully personalized legal defense strategy.

We understand that every terroristic threat case is different. The legal defense that works well for another person may not be applicable to your situation. In some cases, false or trumped-up criminal threat charges must be fought aggressively.

We will work to get illegitimate charges dismissed outright. In other cases, the most effective legal defense is one that focuses on finding a plea agreement that keeps our clients out of jail and protects their future.

Our Experience with Terroristic Threats

We have extensive experience with threats of violence.

Recently, we achieved a not guilty jury trial win for one of our clients. We were also able to expunge the crime from his record altogether.

If you would like to learn more about our approach to these cases and gain a perspective on your charge, contact us today for a free consultation.

Possible Defenses: Transitory Anger

Transitory anger is an immediate defense to a charge of terroristic threats that we’ll explore. Transitory anger is a fleeting moment of frustration, perhaps leading to something said during the heat of the moment, but with no real intent to actually follow through with the statement.

It is human nature to express anger, and an expression of anger may be transitory, intended only as a harmless expression of anger, frustration, or annoyance and given without intent to cause fear or harm.

The charge of terroristic threats is not meant to encompass verbal threats expressing transitory anger without intent to terrorize.

We will prepare a defense to present to the jury that urges them to find that the anger was not expressed as an actual threat to commit a crime of violence and without the required intent to make the recipient of the statement extremely fearful.

Speak to Our Twin Cities Terroristic Threats Defense Lawyers Today

At Arechigo & Stokka, our Minnesota criminal defense attorneys have the skills and experience needed to handle the complete range of terroristic threat charges. If you or your loved one was charged with making terroristic threats or any related offense, we are here to help.

With a law office in the heart of downtown Saint Paul, our defense lawyers serve communities throughout the Twin Cities, including in Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Washington County, Scott County, Carver County, and Dakota County.

For a free, fully private initial consultation, please contact our legal team right away.