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House passes bill to make “terroristic threats” a felony

On the same day that a bomb threat forced Raymond High School in Hinds County to be placed in lockdown, the Mississippi House of Representatives voted on and passed HB 1264, which would make terroristic threats a felony.

Related: Bomb threat forces lockdown at Raymond High School

If the bill makes it into law, the crime would be punishable by up to a 10-year prison sentence. The bill defines the term “terroristic threat” as:

“The term “terroristic threat” means a threat to commit a crime of violence or a threat to cause bodily injury to another person and terrorization as the result of the proscribed conduct, which threat must have an intent to terrorize, harm, intimidate or disrupt a governmental function.”

 (a)  A person commits the offense of making a terroristic threat when the person making the threat causes a reasonable expectation or fear of the imminent commission of an offense and when so acting, the person has the intent to:

(i)  Intimidate or coerce a civilian population;   

(ii)  Influence the policy of a unit of government by intimidation or coercion;   

(iii)  Affect the conduct of a unit of government, educational institution, business or segment of the civilian population by intimidation or coercion; or

(iv) Affect the conduct of a unit of government by threatening murder, assassination or kidnapping or any other act deemed as terroristic in nature. 

The bill goes on to state that even if the one making the threats did not actually have the intent to act on it, or did not have the capability to carry out the threat, neither of those can be used as a defense.

It is not a defense to a prosecution under this section that at the time the defendant made the terroristic threat, the defendant did not have the intent or capability to actually commit the specified offense, nor is it a defense that the threat was not made to a person who was a subject or intended victim of the threatened act. 

The bill has been sent over to the Senate after passing through the House with a final vote of 105-7. The Senate is considering a similar bill which adds a section stating that one cannot be convicted based on the uncorroborated testimony of one person that received the threat.

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