What Constitutes a Terroristic Threat in Minnesota?


Every state has its statute for terroristic threats. In Minnesota, the Terroristic Threats statute is defined as someone who “threatens, directly or indirectly, to commit any crime of violence with purpose to terrorize another or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror.” It is a felony and can be punishable for up to five years.

Terroristic threats in Minnesota need to prove the defendant made a threat to commit an act of violence and cause fear in one other with disregard of any risk it may have. Terroristic threats can be carried into domestic charges, specifically if a threat was made in an argument. Under the Minnesota statute of Terroristic Threats, saying “I will kill you” or “I could kill you because I’m so mad” qualify as terroristic threats.

Limitations and Speaker’s Intent
Defenses to a terroristic threat charge are the speaker’s intent and the context of the threat. The state would have to prove that the defendant made the threat to either cause extreme fear or disregard any risk revolving around the caused fear. And the context around the threat can determine the intent behind it.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals noted in State v. Balster that the context determines whether it is a literal intent or is simply an expression of anger, frustration, or annoyance. These harmless utterances are referred to as “transitory anger”.

Previous cases involving a terroristic threat charge had concluded that the statue in Minnesota is meant to punish serious threats, rather than petty disorderly conduct or breach of peace. Essentially, harmless threats typically do not result in charges.

A terroristic threat charge depends on whether the state can prove without reasonable doubt the threat was made with the intent to cause the subject to have extreme fear. The defendant, through the help of experienced criminal defense lawyers, will certainly prove that it was a harmless expression.

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