We hear so much about terrorism these days in Florida and around the country.

But just what constitutes terrorism?

For a prosecutor to file a terrorism charge, the intent of the crime must be known. When we think about the word “terrorism,” we think about violent crimes, such as shootings or bombings. But to qualify as terrorism, the intent must have been to intimidate either the government or its citizens.

What is an example of terrorism in the United States? Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, was convicted of terrorism because he hoped his actions would lead to a revolution.

These are additional acts that could qualify as terrorism, and not all of them are violent crimes. They include:

  • Possessing, acquiring or using missile systems designed to destroy airplanes or other aircraft
  • Making, acquiring or using devices to spread radiological weapons
  • Completing financial transactions with countries that support international terrorism
  • Using, threatening, attempting or taking part in a conspiracy that involves weapons of mass destruction
  • Participating in acts of nuclear terrorism
  • Harboring terrorists or providing them with support

As you can see, these are serious crimes. And they carry serious prison time for convictions. Penalties include: up to life imprisonment for kidnapping, conspiracy or acts that result in death; up to 35 years for maiming; up to 30 years for assault with a dangerous weapon; or up to 25 years for destruction of property.

Sentences also can’t be served concurrently.

Anyone charged with terrorism needs a vigorous defense. Both their reputation and freedom are at stake.