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Terrorism: Its Definition and Potential Consequences

Photo: Candle Light VigilTerrorism has an immediate impact on your senses, and you can describe it to someone as a destructive force that is intended to intimidate and terrorize.

But the legal definition of terrorism isn’t quite as easy to define or understand, because it is much easier to explain the tangible results of the act than it is to explain the act itself.

So let’s take a look at the legal definition of terrorism, and the penalties for a defendant convicted of this crime.

How Does The U.S. Define Terrorism?

According to the United States Code of Federal Regulations, terrorism is the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.  What that means is a person doesn’t need to blow up a building to be charged with terrorism. In fact, the most important determinant of whether a crime is charged as terrorism is the intent of the person who committed the act.

Earlier this year, a white man stabbed and killed an African-American man in New York and admitted after arrest that he had intended to kill more African-Americans if he hadn’t been caught.

The man was charged with murder in the second degree as a hate crime, but also faced first and second-degree terrorism charges because his criminal act was intended to intimidate a segment of the population (African Americans).

Some of the common acts that fall under a terrorism charge, include:

  • Kidnapping a government official
  • Conspiracy to murder, kidnap or maim
  • Harboring known terrorists
  • Financing terrorist activities
  • Arson or bombing
  • Use of a vehicle as a weapon to kill

What Are the Penalties For Terrorism?

The penalties for terrorism are dependent on the act that the defendant committed, but can include:

  • Life sentence for an act that causes a person’s death
  • Death penalty for an act that causes a person’s death
  • Life sentence for kidnapping
  • Prison sentence of as much as 20 years for funding terrorism
  • Prison sentence of as much as 35 years for maiming
  • Prison sentence of as much as 30 years for assault with a deadly weapon that causes serious injury.

Defenses Against Terrorism Charges

Terrorism is a very serious charge, and if you are arrested for this crime, you need a respected and experienced lawyer to take on your case. One of the defenses against this charge is mistaken identity.

There have been many instances in which the government arrests someone on a terrorism charge and later finds out that they have the wrong person.

Your lawyer may also be able to prove that you became involved in terrorism through fraudulent means. For example, if you are accused of financing terrorist activities, you may have done so thinking you were financing a legitimate activity.

If you need an aggressive lawyer who has years of experience, the Elden Group is the team that can help you. Please call us today at (888) 991-9353 for a legal consultation.

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