Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

Terroristic Threats and Terroristic Acts in Georgia

Posted by Richard Lawson | Mar 03, 2018 | 0 Comments

This past week I wrote an article on what constitutes a terroristic threat in the state of Georgia. There's a lot of focus right now on both terroristic threats and terroristic acts not only in the state of Georgia but across the country with the amount of school-related shootings and threats in the media. 

Today, I'd like to focus on the differences between a terroristic threat and a terroristic act in the state of Georgia by consulting Georgia law and cases.

Terroristic Threats in Georgia: Looking at the Law

Georgia law defines terroristic threats in Georgia as when a person “threatens to commit any crime of violence, to release any hazardous substance, or to burn or damage any property with the purpose of terrorizing another or of causing the evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation or otherwise causing serious public inconvenience or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience.” O.C.G.A. §16-11-37.

In order to be convicted of terroristic threats in Georgia, much like any other conviction, the State must show that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, with terroristic threats, the state of Georgia must demonstrate that a threat was communicated to the alleged victim with the intent to terrorize. Georgia courts hold that if there is no direct evidence that the jury may infer that there was a purpose of terrorization from surrounding circumstances. The penalty for a terroristic threats conviction in Georgia is either treated as a misdemeanor or a felony. The dividing line between the felony and misdemeanor charge is if the threat suggests the death of the victim. If a misdemeanor, then the consequences are up to one year in jail, up to $1,000 fines, or both. If a felony, then the consequences are between one to five years in prison, a fine up to $1,000, or both. The penalties will be even greater if the threat is made with the intent to retaliate or threaten any person attending a judicial or administrative proceeding, law enforcement officer, community supervision officer, probation officer, prosecuting attorney or judge relating to the commission of an offense.

Terroristic Threats in Georgia: Looking at Georgia Cases

A recent example is Harper v. State, 337 Ga. App. 57 (2016). Harper was arrested and jailed on charges in Coweta County. During his incarceration time, he was placed in isolation because of disciplinary issues. This is when Harper started threatening officers at the jail. He said on multiple occasions that he was going to break into their houses and kill their families. The court held that he intended to terrorize the officers, and he was then convicted of terroristic threats in Georgia. 

Terroristic Acts in Georgia: Looking at the Law

Georgia law defines terroristic acts in Georgia as when a person “uses a burning or flaming cross or other burning or flaming symbol or flambeau with the intent to terrorize another or another's household; while not in the commission of a lawful act, he or she shoots at or throws an object at a conveyance which is being operated or which is occupied by passengers; or releases any hazardous substance or any simulated hazardous substance under the guise of a hazardous substance for the purpose of terrorizing another; for the purpose of causing the evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation; for the purpose of otherwise causing serious public inconvenience; or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing the terror, evacuation, or inconvenience.” O.C.G.A. §16-11-37(c).

In order to be convicted of terroristic acts in Georgia, much like any other conviction, the State must show that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, similar to terroristic threats, the state of Georgia must demonstrate that the act was intended to terrorize. The offense of terroristic acts is considered a felony in Georgia. The penalties include a fine up to $5,000, five to ten years of imprisonment, or both. If the victim suffers a severe injury, the fine can go up to $250,000 and the prison sentence can increase to up to forty years. The penalties will be even greater if the threat is made with the intent to retaliate or threaten any person attending a judicial or administrative proceeding, law enforcement officer, community supervision officer, probation officer, prosecuting attorney or judge relating to the commission of an offense.

Terroristic Acts in Georgia: Looking at Georgia Cases

A recent example is Farley v. State, 314 Ga. App. 660 (2012). Farley actively stalked and threatened his ex-girlfriend after their relationship ended. He threatened her multiple times before pouring gasoline on her house intending to burn her house down after she had gotten a protective order against him. The court held that he released gasoline, a hazardous substance, for the purpose of terrorizing his ex-girlfriend, and that he was guilty of terroristic acts in Georgia. 

There are a number of Georgia Criminal Defenses to the charges of both terroristic threats and terroristic acts in Georgia. A knowledgable and experience Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer will know how to best obtain a favorable outcome. A charge is not a conviction - contact us today.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard Lawson has devoted his entire career to DUI Defense. He exclusively handles DUI Cases. As a former DUI Prosecutor he knows both sides of your case. Put his experience to work for you. You only have 30 days to protect your right to drive. Call now for immediate attention. We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

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