In this post-9/11 world, law enforcement takes any hint of terrorist activity very seriously. Consequently, any word or action you make that police believe may be related to terrorism can subject you to criminal prosecution.
Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers have decades of experience in successfully fighting criminal charges, often without having to go to trial at all. Scroll down to learn more about the law of terrorist threats in Nevada including possible penalties and potential defenses.
As you know, terrorism is using sabotage or violence in order to cause substantial injury or destruction to the general population. Therefore, the legal definition of "terrorist threats" in Las Vegas, Nevada, makes it unlawful to issue any threat concerning an act of terrorism with the intent to:
- injure, intimidate or alarm any person, or
- cause panic or civil unrest, or
- extort or profit, or
- interfere with the operations of or cause economic or other damage to any person or any officer, agency, board, bureau, commission, department, division or other unit of federal, state or local government
It doesn't matter whether the terrorist threat actually resulted in any harm. Merely communicating a threat with the intent to cause injury, panic, profit or destruction qualifies as criminal activity. Examples of the Nevada crime of terrorist threats include:
- calling in a threat to a place of worship
- sending a threatening letter to city hall
- texting threats of harm to your ex-lover
Note that the Nevada crime of terrorist threats does not encompass making a bogus bomb threat. Both acts are serious felonies, but making terrorist threats carry potentially higher prison terms than making bomb threats. (NRS 202.840)
Also note that this offense is commonly called "criminal threats" rather than "terrorist threats" in California law.
Which defenses would be most effective in fighting charges of terrorist threats in Nevada depend on the facts of the case. Here are some of the more common strategies your attorney may use:
- False allegations - Perhaps someone falsely accused you of making terrorist threats out of revenge, anger or an innocent misunderstanding. Either way, your charges should be dropped as long as the prosecution can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you made a threat concerning terrorism.
- Police misconduct - In the heat of the moment police may deviate from protocol and commit unconstitutional acts such as illegal arrests, searches and seizures. In these cases your attorney may file a Nevada motion to suppress asking the judge to throw out any evidence found from the unlawful police activity. If the judge agrees, your case may be dismissed for lack of proof.
- Accident - You are not criminally liable for making a terrorist threat if you didn't deliberately mean to injure or alarm anyone, cause panic, make a profit or interfere with government operations. As long as the D.A. can't show that your intentions were malicious, the whole case may be thrown out.
Making terrorist threats is prosecuted as a category B felony in Las Vegas. The punishment may include:
- 2 - 20 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- maybe up to $5,000 in fines
When determining the sentence judges consider the circumstances surrounding the alleged terrorists threat such as:
- the defendant's motivation,
- the nature of the threats, and
- the extent of the damage done
Depending on the case, D.A.s may try to avoid trial by offering to lower your terrorist threat charges down to less serious offenses such as:
- reckless endangerment in Nevada, which can be either a category C felony in Las Vegas or a gross misdemeanor in Las Vegas, or
- breach of peace in Nevada, which is only a misdemeanor in Las Vegas
Arrested? We're here for you . . .
If after reading this you'd like a free consultation with our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers, call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We may be able to negotiate your charges down to a lesser crime or even have it dismissed. And if necessary, we're always ready to fight for you at trial.
To learn about California criminal threats law, go to our informational webpage on California criminal threats law in Penal Code 422 PC.