Terroristic threats, like assault, do not require the actual committing of a terrorist act in order to be criminally charged. Credible threats of mass violence, whether written or verbal, put incredible strain on government resources, cause psychological harm to those in fear for their lives, and can result in real damage—regardless of whether a terrorist act takes place.
So what is the difference between a regular threat of violence and and a “terroristic threat”? It can be difficult to define on a technical level the difference between a threat of terrorism and a threat of personal violence, but Maryland law does make a distinction.
The Parts of a Terrorist Threat
There are four parts to a terrorist threat: (1) a threat (2) specifically threatening death, serious injury, or property damage (3) with credibility, (4) causing terror or a response on the part of the authorities. Under Maryland law, it becomes a threat of mass violence when five or more people are the target or victims.
A threat becomes a terroristic threat (or threat of mass violence) in Maryland if at least five people:
- Have a reasonable fear an act of violence will occur
- Must evacuate a residence or public place
- Must take shelter within a designated area
- Are compelled to take shelter until the threat has passed
Note that the difference between a terroristic threat and a threat of violence can come down to the number of people affected. In that case, a technicality might be all that separates some defendants from a few years in prison and a decade of imprisonment.
How Threats of Mass Violence Are Charged in Maryland
Maryland courts charge threats of mass violence as a misdemeanor, although the penalties for this particular misdemeanor are harsh: up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Additionally, defendants might be made liable for the cost of responding to their threat, i.e. the cost of mobilizing police, paramedics, and other emergency services.
If you’re charged with threatening mass violence in Prince George’s County, you could be facing a decade behind bars, as well as serious consequences for your record that will affect your employment and housing in the future. As Prince George’s County defense attorneys, it’s our job to fight your charges at every step, reducing your penalties or getting your case acquitted entirely.
Speak with Gracia & Mintz at (301) 842-8584 for a free case consultation. We look forward to discussing your defense as soon as possible.