While we may not give too much weight to the words we say, especially in emotionally charged moments, it’s important to know that what you say may have serious legal consequences. If you’ve been charged with communicating threats to someone, you could be facing jail time, fines, and a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life.
When you need an experienced criminal threats attorney in Raleigh, the defense lawyers at Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh are there for you. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience in both criminal prosecution and criminal defense. We know how the other side works and will work tirelessly on your behalf to create and implement a legal strategy that’s in your best interests.
Criminal Threat Laws in North Carolina
Referred to in the North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) as “Communicating Threats,” issuing a criminal threat is a complicated law with a great deal of gray area. Defined in N.C.G.S. 14-277.1, a person has committed the Class 1 misdemeanor of communicating threats if he or she:
- Willfully threatens to physically injure another person or that person’s child, spouse, or threatens to damage another person’s property.
- The threat is communicated to the other person orally, in writing, or by another method, such as over social media, AND
- Threatens another person in a way that would cause a “reasonable person” to take the threat seriously or believes the threat will be carried out.
It’s important to note that jokes, sarcasm, or threats that clearly aren’t delivered with intent are not illegal or fall under the umbrella of this law. However, the law is vague in that a threat that would cause a “reasonable person” to believe it’s serious, is objective. Threats can be in person, over the phone, or sent across social media or text message, and what may be simply voicing frustration could turn into criminal charges.
Communicating Threats or Simple Assault
Communicating threats and simple assault can be very similar, in that both are considered threatening actions. However, someone will be charged with simple assault if there is more of a threat than “mere words,” whereas communicating threats is the charge when only words are used to issue a threat.
For example, if someone raises their fist and says, “I’m going to punch you in the face,” that would most likely be considered simple assault. If the threat did not include the raised fist, and someone only said the words, that should be considered communicating threats.
Consequences of Criminal Threats
Because the charge of communicating threats is a Class 1 misdemeanor, it can carry a penalty of 120 days in jail and a discretionary fine. Additionally, charges related to communicating threats can be used in a restraining order, which can cause more legal difficulties. To avoid this severe penalty, it’s important to contact a criminal threats attorney in Raleigh as soon as possible. What may have been a mistake, a joke, or simply venting frustration can turn into a criminal conviction that could follow you around for life and even lead to jail time.
Schedule a Consultation with our Criminal Threats Attorney in Raleigh
Charges related to communicating threats are serious and can have devastating consequences on your future. Instead of trying to face these charges alone, you need experienced, dedicated legal representation. Schedule a free consultation with Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh today by filling out our contact form or calling us at (919) 887-8040.