Most people in Wheeling may be prone to bouts of anger every now and then. Sometimes, that anger may prompt them to say things that may be contrary to their typical characters. People may not assign much value to words, but when those words constitute threats, law enforcement officials may take them very seriously, even to the point of labeling them as being terroristic.
One’s threats of violence may not meet the standard of qualifying as domestic terrorism, which according to the U.S. Federal Code (as shared by the Cornell University Law School) are any acts that present a danger to human life that are in violation of any federal and state laws meant to intimidate or influence that occur within U.S. jurisdiction. That does not mean, however, that a threat may not be in violation of a local law.
According to Section 61-6-24 of the West Virginia Code, it is considered illegal to:
- Threaten to commit a terrorist act
- Convey false information about an attempted terrorist attack
- Use a hoax substance or device to infer the intent of committing an attack
Those accused of acting in such a way could potentially face felony charges.
In each aforementioned scenario, one does not have to actually intend to carry out an attack to be charged. This may present a challenge to those charged with this offense. Normally, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution to prove intent. Yet that may not apply in this scenario. One may instead have to show that there was never even a threat to harm or intimidate, either by arguing that any threat he or she made was vague (or not aimed at anyone in particular) or that he or she lacked the physical capabilities or resources to ever carry it out.