Terrorism and the threat of terrorism have once again been making headlines internationally. But in the legal sense, the concept of terrorism is not something confined to foreigners in faraway lands. In fact, Kentucky law recognizes the act of terrorizing someone else as a crime in this state.
As with many crimes Kentucky divides the act of “terroristic threatening” into multiple degrees; with first degree being the most serious offense, and third degree being the least serious offense.
First degree terroristic threatening
This Class C felony involves either:
- intentionally and falsely threatening that one has placed a weapon of mass destruction on property that is owned or leased by a government agency or a school; or
- the actual placement of a counterfeit weapon of mass destruction on such property.
Second degree terroristic threatening
This Class D felony is invoked when an individual intentionally threatens action that would result in death or serious bodily harm against a school function, or against an employee, contractor or any other person lawfully on the school property, when the threat is connected with the employment of people at the school or their involvement with a school function.
Making false threats about using a weapon of mass destruction on property other than a government building or a school, or placing a counterfeit weapon of mass destruction at such a location also qualifies as second-degree terroristic threatening.
Third-degree terroristic threatening
This Class A misdemeanor occurs when someone threatens to commit a crime against another that would result in death, serious injury or substantial damage to someone else’s property -- similar to what some jurisdictions refer to as “menacing” -- or makes threats intended to cause the evacuation of a building or a means of public transportation (for example, a bomb threat).
There are some exceptions to behavior that might otherwise be construed as terroristic threatening, the most notable being if someone reports to law enforcement or emergency responders a terroristic threat that he or she heard mentioned by a third person. Police training using fake weapons of mass destruction is also an exception from the law.
Threatening others is a bad idea, whether it constitutes ordinary assault or terroristic threats. But if you should ever find yourself accused of the latter, the potential serious consequences make retaining legal counsel a matter of immediate and considerable importance.