After Paris, LAPD Sees Terror Risk Shifting Across the City

There is no shortage of tragic news in the realm of terrorism lately. The bombings in Paris have sparked counterterrorism efforts 6,000 miles away in Southern California. Specifically, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has always remained a focus of the region whenever the topic of national security comes up, as it is a major international travel port. As a result, the LAPD has increased its security in the airport and even broadened the locations where the masses gather, such as buses, railway stations, malls, and popular public places within Los Angeles County. The LAPD is concerned that Los Angeles will be a popular terrorist target because of the urban sprawl, high population, and different neighborhoods which all hold popular venues for people to gather.

The department’s priority plan is to protect “soft targets,” which are areas that typically do not have security. The approaching holiday season also has the department on edge. Travel warnings have been issued for the LAX area for the millions of travelers that go through the tri-county area. The alerts will remain effective until February 24.   

What is a Terroristic Threat?

A terroristic threat is generally defined as a threat to commit violence with the intent to terrorize another, a building, or the public. It is a crime in every state, and every state has its own terrorist threat law. The threat a person makes must be reasonable in order to qualify as a terrorist threat.

California Law on Terroristic Threats

In California, there are multiple laws that may apply to terroristic threats.

The Hertzberg-Alarcon California Prevention of Terrorism Act specifically refers to “terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction, including, but not limited to, chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiological agents.” It makes it illegal to release weapons of mass destruction (including chemicals) into the public. A violation of this statute is punishable by imprisonment of four to 12 years and a fine up to $100,000.

The California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (STEP) specifically refers to gang or gang-related activity. See CA Penal Code § 186.20. It makes it a felony to participate in any gang activity and provides the gang sentencing enhancement, making it so that anyone who commits a felony for the benefit of a gang will earn up to 25 years to life imprisonment on top of the sentencing of the felony itself. The thinking behind this law was that participating in gang activity is essentially a form of domestic terrorism.

The California “criminal threats” law makes it a misdemeanor or felony when you threaten to kill or harm someone and cause fear. It used to be referred to as the “terrorist threat” law. See CA Penal Code § 422.

San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer

During these times, it is not even wise to joke about making threats against anyone. Police will not hesitate to charge you with a terroristic threat, even if you did not have the intention of carrying out the threat. If you  have been falsely accused of making a terroristic threat, contact the Law Offices of David M. Boertje today.