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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Assault > How Making “Terroristic Threats” Can Lead to Serious Criminal Charges in Georgia

How Making “Terroristic Threats” Can Lead to Serious Criminal Charges in Georgia


In recent years, state and local governments have become more vigilant in trying to guard against acts of violence intended to terrorize local communities. Here in Georgia, there is a state law that expressly defines the “offense of a terroristic threat,” which can be used to convict someone even if they never actually carry out their threat. And contrary to what you might think, a terroristic threat is not limited to those made against the general public, such as threatening to commit a mass shooting. Georgia district attorneys have successfully prosecuted individuals for making terroristic threats against individuals, including family members.

Georgia Man Convicted After Threatening to Stab Brother

So what exactly qualifies as a “terroristic threat” in Georgia? There are three basic elements of the crime:

  • The defendant threatened to commit a crime of violence, release a hazardous substance, or burn or damage property;
  • The defendant made their threat for the purpose of terrorizing another, causing the evacuation of a public building or place, causing public inconvenience, or acted with reckless disregard with respect to any of the above; and
  • There is corroborating testimony from someone other than the party who received the threat.

To give a practical example of how this law can be applied, consider this recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, Meite v. State. This case involved two brothers, one of whom was the defendant. According to prosecutors, the defendant and his brother shared a room in their family home. One day the defendant got mad at his brother for listening to music. The defendant left the room and returned a short time later. The brother “perceived” the defendant might have a knife underneath his shirt. The defendant then threatened to stab his brother. A third brother in another room overheard this threat.

Prosecutors charged the defendant with aggravated assault, making terroristic threats, and family violence battery. According to the evidence at trial, the brother never actually saw the defendant holding the knife. The defendant testified and denied making the threat.

The case was heard by a judge sitting without a jury. (A defendant can choose to waive their right to a jury trial in Georgia.) The judge found the defendant not guilty of aggravated assault but convicted him of making terroristic threats and family violence battery. The defendant appealed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions. With respect to making terroristic threats, the appellate court said the prosecution met its burden of proof. “Without question,” the court noted, the defendant’s “statement constituted a threat to commit a violent crime” against his brother. Under the circumstances, that threat “intended to terrorize his brother.” And there was a corroborating witness who overheard the threat. The fact the defendant did not actually have a knife on his person when he made the threat was irrelevant. His felony conviction stood.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Even when nobody is physically injured, a person charged with making a threat to commit violence can still face serious felony charges under Georgia law. If you find yourself the target of such a prosecution, it is important to work with an experienced Georgia assault lawyer who can advise you of your rights and represent you in court. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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