There are times when a romantic relationship, a financial issue, or another emotionally heavy situation may cause you to steam with anger or otherwise act out of your normal character. When confronting these situations, some people decide to threaten the perceived aggressor with things like violence, malicious action against friends or family, and blackmail, for instance.
In North Carolina, communicating any type of threat is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 120 days incarceration and a discretionary fine. If you or someone you know has been charged with communicating threats, you can fight the charges and present your side of the story with the aid of a competent criminal defense attorney.
What is a Threat?
In most legal cases containing communicating threat offenses, domestic violence is involved. It is important to note, however, what denotes a criminal level of threat-making. Telling your spouse, “if you don’t get a job I’m going to leave you” is a much different threat than “if you don’t get a job I’ll punch you.” As such, North Carolina statute § 14-277.1 states that a person can be charged with communicating threats if he/she:
- willfully threatens to physically injure the person or that person’s child, sibling, spouse, or dependent or willfully threatens to damage the property of another
- the threat is communicated to the other person by any means (orally, writing, etc)
- the threat would cause a reasonable person to believe that the threat is likely to be carried out
- the person threatened believes the threat
As you can see, the legal definition of this crime is broad and can apply to countless situations. Yet, if the threat is clearly a joke or an exaggeration, the aggressor has not committed a criminal offense. Another important situation to note, and a common misunderstanding concerning threats, is the use of “conditionals” in the threat. For instance, by saying, “If you take another step closer, I’ll punch you,” you have still committed a crime as you had no legal reason to tell the other person not to come closer.
The Importance of a Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyer
Because communicating threats offenses are often associated with domestic violence cases, it is essential to choose an attorney who not only has criminal defense experience, but also understands the circumstances (legally, psychologically, and socially) surrounding domestic violence. With years of experience helping hundreds of Raleigh residents successfully defend this charge, attorney Dewey P. Brinkley knows the complexity of these cases and what evidence and legal strategies are needed to hopefully prove your innocence or, if the evidence is stacked against you, negotiate a reduced or alternative sentence. For a free consultation, call the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley in Raleigh today for a free consultation.