Our conference Q&A session was a big hit, but not all of the questions could be answered. Let’s take a look at one. . .
Q: Provide clarification of what constitutes a “terroristic threat” related to school
A: Texas Penal Code § 42.01 prohibits disorderly conduct which includes, among other things, intentionally or knowingly abusing or threatening a person in a public place in an obviously offensive manner. This subcategory of disorderly conduct is a Class C misdemeanor. Under HB 359 enacted during the 2011 Texas Legislative session, however, students younger than twelve years of age may not be charged with this category of disorderly conduct if the conduct occurs on campus and during regular school hours. A terroristic threat under Texas Penal Code § 22.07(a)(2) occurs when a person intentionally threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property. The statute provides:
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;
(3) prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place;
(4) cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service;
(5) place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
(6) influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.
An offense under Section 22.07 requires a showing of intent on the part of the actor to get a reaction, place fear in a person or group of serious bodily injury, prevent or interrupt operations in a public place or public services, or influence the conduct of government activities. An offense is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the offense is committed against a member of the person’s family or household or otherwise constitutes family violence; or is committed against a public servant. An offense under Subsection (a)(3) is a Class A misdemeanor, unless the actor causes pecuniary loss of $1,500 or more to the owner of the building, room, place, or conveyance, in which event the offense is a state jail felony. An offense under Subsection (a)(4), (a)(5), or (a)(6) is a felony of the third degree.