By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
A threat is a crime in Texas under certain circumstances. I’ll discuss the two most common.
The first offense is labeled by the Penal Code as a “Terroristic Threat“. It might be a touch aggressively named, but is committed when there is a threat of violence seeking a particular reaction listed under Texas Penal Code 22.07(a)(1). Examples include trying to put another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, trying to interrupt public transportation, or trying to cause a reaction of an Emergency Organization.
Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon
The second is aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon can be committed several different ways — but for our discussion, it is committed where a person “uses or exhibits” a “deadly weapon” during an assault by threat.
A deadly weapon is legally defined by Texas Penal Code 1.07(a)(17) as a firearm or anything which has a use or intended use that is to inflict serious bodily injury or death. Prosecutors can get pretty liberal with what is and isn’t a deadly weapon. In general if someone is threatened with an object like a knife, bat, pipe or something like that — it will be an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
What About Freedom of Speech?
Any legal scholar will tell you there is a limitation to every right under the bill of rights. You cannot run into a theater and yell, “fire!” In fact, Terroristic Threat is the very crime you’d be committing by doing so.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the State Bar of Texas. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. For legal advice about any situation you should contact an attorney directly.