Most people understand that the Constitution guarantees many rights, including the right to free speech. But, it is important to note that many rights are not absolute, and laws make it onto the books that seem to infringe on important rights. But, despite the existence of a law, when prosecutors rely on the statute to bring criminal charges, a review and assessment of the individual facts is important to protect rights.

Take, for instance, the Missouri law prohibiting terroristic threats. In today’s culture, many may believe that this has to do with some level of national security issue related to terrorism, based upon the name. But, it is essentially a charge for an alleged criminal threat. The issue comes to light after the recent arrest of a high school kid from Mexico High.

The Missouri teen is charged with making a terroristic threat while boarding a school bus last week. Authorities claim that the young man donned a homemade mask and whispered to the bus driver. The driver claims that the teen whispered that he was going to kill people.

Prosecutors are pursuing the case in criminal court. The teen is accused of making a terroristic threat. He was released on bond last Friday and is scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on October 8.

In most cases in Missouri a charge of making a terroristic threat is a felony. Any felony level offense can bring serious consequences in the criminal case. Long-term collateral consequences in these types of cases may also follow a conviction, especially considering the prevalence of background checks in employment and academic opportunities.

Source: KOMU, “Court Date Set for Mexico High School Student,” Christine Roto, Sept. 24, 2013