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Terroristic Threats in Georgia (O.C.G.A. § 16-11-37)

Because everyone knows that threatening to kick someone’s axx is far worse than actually hitting them or trying to hit them, right? Well, that’s the logic the Georgia legislature used when authoring the Terroristic Threats statute. They made such threats felony offenses punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

O.C.G.A. §16-11-37 defines a “Terroristic Threat” as:

            1) Threatening to commit any crime of violence

            2) Threatening to release any hazardous substance

3) Threatening to burn or damage 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

Now these are obviously VERY different acts. Yet, our wise overlords have called them all “terroristic threats”. The good news is, you cannot be convicted SOLELY on the testimony of the person who was threatened. It must be corroborated in some way. Corroboration can be via a text message, email, another witness or a confession on the part of the person charged.

The statute goes on to carve out a pseudo protected class of victims. Should the perpetrator be making his or her terroristic threats against someone in retaliation for that person having provided information to law enforcement regarding a crime or for participation in the judicial process, the perpetrator will face harsher sanctions. Participation in the judicial process includes witnesses, judges, attorneys, clerks etc. Making a terroristic threat against these people will get you 5 to 10 years and a whopping $50,000 fine.

It's a good rule of thumb not to threaten people. If you do so, you probably shouldn't leave a record of it or do it in the presence of others. Finally, you should definitely assert your right to remain silent if questioned by the police.

For additional questions, please email me at [email protected] or call me at 770-729-4809.

 - Jason Carnell

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