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State and federal laws governing terroristic threats

With all the news of terrorism all over the media in a 24-hour cycle, it's a good time to review how the state of Connecticut views some felony charges related to threats.

The state does not take into consideration the level of disruption that results from a terroristic threat when it comes to penalties for a conviction.

Connecticut laws regarding threatening address all threats of criminal acts, including threats of bombs or chemical, biological or radioactive material. False reports of these type of threats to cause inconvenience or public alarm are handled under laws prohibiting false reporting.

State laws against breaching the peace address the crime of leaving fake bombs, yet fail to address leaving fake biohazards or chemical substances to cause disruptions. Potential categories for this could be creating public disturbances or even disorderly conduct.

There are federal laws in place regarding making threats about using weapons of mass destruction. Another federal statute deals with threats of the use of chemical weaponry.

Connecticut law defines threatening if a person:

-- makes a physical threat to intentionally attempt or succeed in making someone afraid of "imminent, serious physical injury";

-- threatens to commit violent crimes to evacuate places of assembly, facilities, public transit or buildings, or terrorize people or cause public inconvenience; or

-- threatens to commit crimes, recklessly disregarding the risk of inconvenience or terror to others.

But what the law fails to note is that often when threats are made, there is not and never was any intention whatsoever to carry them out. It may be possible to craft a defense that can convince a judge or jury that a defendant lacked the intent or capacity to commit the crime for which he or she is charged.

Source: cga.ct.gov, "Federal and StateThreatening Statutes," Christopher Reinhart, accessed March 25, 2016

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