Broad Terroristic Threat Laws Problematic For Minnesotans

Terrorist attacks around the world and mass shootings at home created an atmosphere where even the hint of violence cannot be ignored. Since 9/11, Minnesota enacted a series of stricter and stricter laws regarding “terroristic threats”; however, the vague and broadly defined term has become problematic for Minnesotans. What was once considered just an angry word can now be prosecuted as a felony offense that will stay with the convicted person for the rest of his or her life.


Ask a criminal defense attorney in Minnesota to define “terroristic threat”, and you’ll likely get a different answer each time. Generally speaking, a terroristic threat is any threat of violence against a person or property; or a disruption of public services. Minnesota uses a three tiered system to categorize the degree of the threat, but all three tiers are felonies.

Problems For Minnesotans

At issue for a criminal defense attorney in Minnesota is the vague nature of the law. Four areas are specifically troublesome.

  • How the threat is conveyed: In Minnesota, a threat can be anything from a verbal tirade to a written statement, but new rules allow prosecution for innuendo and body language. In those cases, the intent of the accused is less important to the courts than the perception of the person who found the action threatening.
  • Specifics of the threat: A person accused of making a terroristic threat can be convicted even when there were no specifics about the time or method of attack. So long as the threat includes mention of death, injury or damage, a threat exists.
  • Probability: The threat must be considered reasonable and viable by the person hearing it for the threat to be a crime. A 12 year old threatening to destroy the school with a tank is not going to be convicted of terroristic threats. On the other hand, an adult who makes the same claim could be held responsible, even if the possibility of that person driving a tank is remote.
  • Degree of terror: If the person hearing the threat feels terrified, the State can prosecute, even if there was no intent behind the threat.

A criminal defense attorney in Minnesota will be necessary to protect the rights and freedoms of anyone accused of making terroristic threats. The laws as so broad, and the punishments so severe, that Minnesotans shouldn’t take a risk.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Knowing how to choose a criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis, MN, can help you hire a lawyer who will prepare an effective defense strategy and fight for the best result from your case. One of the crucial tips when selecting a criminal defense lawyer is to vet those with relevant experience in cases like yours. You can only do this when you thoroughly understand the charges you are facing.
People anticipating an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, might ask, “What is the role of a defense attorney during an arrest?” A skilled criminal defense attorney can explain your options, ensure the police follow the rules, and protect your rights. The attorney will build a solid defense, talk to the prosecutor, and fight for your best interests.
Knowing when to hire a criminal lawyer for your case in Minnesota can help protect your constitutional rights and turn the odds in your favor. You should retain a criminal lawyer immediately after learning you are under investigation, get arrested, or are charged with a crime. Seasoned criminal lawyers understand the criminal justice system, can build a winning defense strategy, and aggressively push for a positive outcome of your case.