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Arrested for Domestic Terrorism

Zachary McCready Oct. 20, 2021

According to the Strategic Intelligence Assessment and Data on Domestic Terrorism report, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted about 1,000 domestic terrorism investigations each fiscal year from 2017 through 2019. Any involvement in domestic terrorism is an extremely serious offense in California and the United States. A defendant convicted of domestic terrorism could be facing devastating penalties, including life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, hefty fines, a permanent criminal record, and other life-changing ramifications.

If you have been arrested and charged with domestic terrorism, it is imperative that you retain a highly-skilled California criminal defense attorney to help build your defense. At McCready Law Group, I'm dedicated to providing comprehensive legal guidance and aggressive representation to individuals facing domestic terrorism charges. As your legal counsel, I will fight vigorously on your side to defend your legal rights, refute any allegations against you with substantial evidence, and make sure you get a fair trial. My firm is proud to represent clients throughout Long Beach, Cypress Hill, and Lakewood, California.

Understanding Domestic Terrorism

According to 18 US Code Section 2331 (5), the term "domestic terrorism" involves acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state. Also, domestic terrorism can be any activity that appears to be intended:

  • To intimidate or coerce a civilian population

  • To influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion

  • To affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping

Domestic terrorism occurs primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Some common examples of crimes associated with domestic terrorism include:

  • Chemical attacks

  • Building or detonating bombs

  • Spreading radioactive materials

  • Harboring a terrorist

  • Biological attacks

  • Providing financial assistance to terror attacks

  • Possession of biological or chemical weapons

  • Possession of bomb-making materials

Domestic terrorism remains a controversial concept and it is defined in terms of different characteristics or elements.

Key Elements of Terrorism

Terrorism is characterized by four key elements, including:

  • Violence – The threat of harm or use of violence

  • Political or Religious Cause – A political or religious objective or the desire to change the status quo

  • Fear – The intention to spread fear or terror in the mind of the victim by committing violent acts on a large scale

  • Civilian Targets – The targeting of civilians intentionally

In order to investigate these elements, there are specific laws designed to address terrorism, punish offenders, and better protect citizens from such violent acts.

Laws Addressing Terrorism

Here are some of the laws addressing terrorism in the United States:

The USA Patriot Act

The USA Patriot Act was enacted by congress in 2001 to arm law enforcement with new tools to detect and prevent terrorism. The landmark Act is expected to improve the country's counter-terrorism efforts in the following ways:

  • Allow investigators to use the tools that were already available to investigate organized crime and drug trafficking.

  • Allow law enforcement to use surveillance against more crimes of terror.

  • Allow federal agents to follow sophisticated terrorists trained to evade detection.

  • Allow law enforcement to conduct investigations without tipping off terrorists.

  • Allow federal agents to ask a court for an order to obtain business records in national security terrorism cases.

  • Facilitate information sharing and cooperation among government agencies so that the authorities can better "connect the dots."

  • Allow law enforcement officials to obtain a search warrant anywhere a terrorist-related activity occurs.

  • Allow victims of computer hacking to request law enforcement assistance in monitoring the "trespassers" on their computers.

  • Increase the penalties for those who commit terrorist crimes.

While the USA Patriot Act is a federal law, there are other state-specific laws addressing domestic terrorism as well.

The Hertzberg-Alarcon California Prevention of Terrorism Act

California legislators recognized the need to fight the threat of domestic terrorism. As such, Governor Gray Davis signed the Hertzberg-Alarcon California Prevention of Terrorism Act (HACPTA) into law on September 28, 1999. The Act (California Penal Code Sections 11415-11419 Terrorism Act) addresses different activities that are considered terrorism acts, including:

  • Possessing, manufacturing, or threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction

  • Possessing a biological or chemical warfare agent

  • Possessing or threatening to use nuclear or radiological agents

  • Intentional release of dangerous chemicals or hazardous materials

  • Emailing or faxing plans for weapons of mass destruction

The HACPTA also specifies the possible punishment for any defendant convicted of the aforementioned terrorism activities.

Possible Penalties

If convicted of domestic terrorism in California, the possible penalties include:

Possessing, manufacturing, or threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction: Punishable by up to nine years in state prison; a second or subsequent offender may be facing up to 15 years in prison

Possessing a biological or chemical warfare agent: Punishable by up to 12 years in state prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, or both

Using a weapon of mass destruction to cause widespread damage: Punishable by up to 12 years in state prison, a maximum fine of $100,000, or both

Emailing or faxing plans for weapons of mass destruction: Punishable by up to one year in county jail or three years in state prison and a maximum fine of $100,000

A skilled criminal defense attorney can enlighten you about the immediate and long-term ramifications of a domestic terrorism conviction and determine your best defense strategy.

Get Guidance from a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

Defending your domestic terrorism charges without experienced representation can increase your risks of suffering the maximum punishment. Moreover, dealing with law enforcement and getting a fair trial could be very hard to come by in a terrorism case. If convicted, you could be facing hefty fines and life imprisonment without eligibility for release. Therefore, when charged with domestic terrorism, hiring a highly skilled criminal defense attorney immediately is crucial to help protect your rights and build your defense.

At McCready Law Group, I have the experience and resources to guide and represent clients who have been wrongfully accused of domestic terrorism. As your legal counsel, I will review and investigate all of the surrounding facts of your unique situation and outline an effective defense strategy to maximize your prospects of the best possible outcome for your case. Using my extensive legal understanding, I will help you navigate the California criminal justice system, negotiate a plea deal or take your case to trial, and make sure you get fair treatment.

Facing domestic terrorism charges can be an unsettling experience. Contact my firm – McCready Law Group – today to schedule a one-on-one case evaluation. I will advocate vigorously on your behalf and do everything within my capacity to keep you out of jail. My firm is proud to represent clients throughout Long Beach, Cypress Hill, and Lakewood, California.

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