What is a Terroristic Threat in Texas?
Texas Penal Code Section 22.07 outlines the offense of terroristic threat. In short, terroristic threats in Texas include any threat of violence to persons or property that is meant to frighten people, impair public affairs, or influence governmental activities.
The most common way this offense is charged is alleging that the offense took place under 22.07(a)(2). This is a threat that causes another person to be in fear of serious bodily injury – but notice that this allegation also requires that the fear was that the serious bodily injury would happen imminently. Therefore threats such as “I will F- you up next time I see you.” may not be deemed imminent. Similarly, a threat such as, “I am going to slap you.” will likely not be a Terroristic Threat because a slap is not likely to cause serious bodily injury.
What is Serious Bodily Injury?
“Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. Some prosecutors may look for more than a broken bone, but not necessarily. For instance, if a person’s jaw was broken and they had their jaw wired shut for six months, that could be considered serious bodily injury in Texas.
The penalty for a terroristic threat depends on the classification of the threat. For example, in most cases, making a threat intended to prevent the use of a public building is a Class A misdemeanor and carries a penalty range of up to one year in a county jail and/or up to a $4000 fine. More serious classifications, such as making a threat with the intention to place a group of people in fear of imminent serious injury is a third-degree felony and an offender could face anywhere between two and 10 years of imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.
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Penal Code Section 22.07
(a) A person commits an offense if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:
(1) cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies;
(2) place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
(3) prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place;
(4) cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service;
(5) place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
(6) influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.
(b) An offense under Subsection (a)(1) is a Class B misdemeanor.
(c) An offense under Subsection (a)(2) is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the offense:
(1) is committed against a member of the person’s family or household or otherwise constitutes family violence; or
(2) is committed against a public servant.
(d) An offense under Subsection (a)(3) is a Class A misdemeanor, unless the actor causes pecuniary loss of $1,500 or more to the owner of the building, room, place, or conveyance, in which event the offense is a state jail felony.
(e) An offense under Subsection (a)(4), (a)(5), or (a)(6) is a felony of the third degree.
(f) In this section:
(1) “Family” has the meaning assigned by Section 71.003, Family Code.
(2) “Family violence” has the meaning assigned by Section 71.004, Family Code.
(3) “Household” has the meaning assigned by Section 71.005, Family Code.
(g) For purposes of Subsection (d), the amount of pecuniary loss is the amount of economic loss suffered by the owner of the building, room, place, or conveyance as a result of the prevention or interruption of the occupation or use of the building, room, place, or conveyance.