Lewisville, TX asked in Domestic Violence for Texas

Q: If someone calls 911 and threatens to kill you, is that a terroristic threat in Texas?

A family member was drinking and was mad at me. They call 911 and accused me of beating a child (not true at all, police didn't even ask to see the child). The family member then threatened to kill me on the 911 call. Isn't that considered a terroristic threat, or at least domestic violence? ...The police came to check on my welfare and to caution me as to what happened, but did nothing. Seems like there should be some sort of penalty for those type of actions. Thank you for your reply.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Penny Wymyczak-White
PREMIUM
Penny Wymyczak-White
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Houston, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: They are filing false police reports. Police could if arrested him for false police report.

1 user found this answer helpful

Kiele Linroth Pace
Kiele Linroth Pace
Answered
  • Domestic Violence Lawyer
  • Austin, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on the context for the threat and the INTENT of the person making the threat rather than the feelings of the person who received the threat. For example, if the person's purpose was to motivate the 911 operator to send officers to a fake emergency it would be a terroristic threat... but if the person's purpose was to PROTECT the child it would NOT be.

Also, a threat to conditionally commit a violent offense in the future is not an IMMINENT threat. For example, if the person said "I'll kill you if you lay another finger on that child" or perhaps "I'll kill you if you don't stop interrupting this phone call" then those are future conditional threats... even if the person who received the threat was in fear of serious bodily injury because it's the intent of the actor that matters. Finally, depending on the facts, the threat of violence in defense of another might NOT EVEN BE AN OFFENSE if it can be legally justified under chapter 9 of the Texas Penal Code.

That said, you can't count on the police, prosecutor, or judge to actually read the penal code. Many people react just as you have and expect that a threat to kill is always a terroristic threat. The police can and do make plenty of arrests they shouldn't and fail to arrest when they should... and unfortunately, many criminal defense attorneys don't bother to compare the alleged facts with the actual law before entering into plea negotiations.

Anyway, if they did decide to go after the person for terroristic threat, they would probably rely on one of the first two means of committing that offense: (there are six defined means)

Sec. 22.07. TERRORISTIC THREAT. (a) A person commits an offense if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:

(1) cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies;

(2) place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;

[... snip ...]

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