In the heat of an angry moment, it’s not uncommon for people to utter harsh words. Often, those statements reflect raw emotion, rather than reality or intent.
In recent years, advancements in technology have made it increasingly fast and easy to make those kinds of statements with a few keystrokes. What once people might have thought better of once they sat down to put pen to paper is now instantaneous. What’s more, the platforms on which these dramas play out are increasingly public. This is true no matter what privacy settings are on your social media page.
Such actions may seemingly be forgotten by the author the next day, but the consequences can be long-lasting. In fact, they may result in an arrest for the very serious felony charge of making a terrorist threat. Ala. Code 13A-10-15 classifies the crime as a Class C felony, punishable by between 2 and 20 years in prison.
The crime involves making a threat by any means to commit a crime of property damage or violence. In order to qualify, the threat has to be either intentional and reckless (involving the disruption of school activities, terrorizing another person or resulting in the evacuation of a building, assembly place or some other location that causes serious inconvenience to the public) or made with the intention to retaliate against a person who is involved in a judicial or law enforcement proceeding.
It sounds very serious – and it is. But again, we’re talking about something that could easily stem from a temporary lapse in good judgment.
This is what is alleged in the recent case of a Tallapoosa County man who reportedly made some type of threat against a district attorney on his Facebook page. The 44-year-old defendant was charged with making terrorist threats. Authorities have refused to detail the exact nature of the threats, but indicate it was connected to an earlier homicide. The post was later removed from defendant’s page, but not before police collected the evidence necessary to make an arrest.
Interestingly, this is the second arrest made for terrorist threats in connection with the underlying homicide. In the other case, police arrested a 30-year-old man for making terrorist threats to police officers on his Facebook page. The threats reportedly were in the form of several posts, and are alleged to have involved threatening the lives of several police officers.
Law enforcement has indicated there is a great deal of misinformation about the shooting.
In another recent Alabama case, a 19-year-old student at the University of Alabama was arrested for terrorists threats after reportedly posting messages characterized as “alarming” that resulted in residents of a dorm being forbidden to enter or exit the building for about 45 minutes while the property was searched.
In yet another case, an attorney was arrested after allegedly threatened a state trooper in a courtroom. The attorney denied the allegations, and the case is still pending.
In December, a woman from Lauderdale County was arrested on the charge after she reportedly sent someone a text message from her cell phone threatening to shoot a county judge overseeing a child custody hearing.
As these cases reveal, these are often emotional outbursts uttered in the heat of the moment, and they don’t reflect the defendant’s true intent. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney to help prove that fact is critical.