State v Fair

The New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that the reckless-disregard portion of the state’s terroristic threats statute is unconstitutionally overbroad. And since the defendant’s indictment, jury instructions, and verdict sheet were “poorly structured,” the Court further held that it was impossible to know whether the jury reached a unanimous verdict. As such, the Court vacated the defendant’s conviction. The single-count indictment against the defendant charged him with violating subsection (a) and/or (b) of the terroristic threats statute. The trial court instructed the jury on each subsection, one focusing on the defendant’s threat to commit any crime of violence, and the other focusing on the defendant’s threat to kill someone. But the trial court did not explain to the jury that it had to unanimously agree on which subsection its verdict was based on. The Appellate Division ruled that the “reckless disregard” mens rea in subsection (a) of the statute violated the “true threat” test in Watts v. United States. Thus, the statute is unconstitutionally overbroad.

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