Free speech is a perennial hot topic. It’s one of the rights guaranteed to US citizens in the Bill of Rights. However, not all speech is protected under the First Amendment. Certain kinds of speech are, in fact, illegal.
For example, this December a North Carolina man was convicted for communicating a death threat on Twitter. The man sent threatening images and a death threat to another Twitter user whose beliefs he did not agree with.
The specific charge was making a threatening communication in an attempt to injure another person through interstate commerce. Communicating threats this way carries significant penalties here in North Carolina.
More About Charges of Communicating Threats in North Carolina
Communicating threats is considered a class 1 misdemeanor. There are several important factors that must be present in order to charge someone with communicating threats.
- First, the person must threaten to physically injure someone or their loved ones.
- Second, this threat must be delivered to the victim.
- Third, the person threatened must reasonably believe the threat will be carried out.
Class 1 Misdemeanors are one of the most serious in North Carolina. Convictions can carry a penalty of up to 120 days in jail and a fine that is completely up to the judge’s discretion.
That amounts to potentially significant consequences for what could have been a momentary lapse of judgment.
Other Charges and Consequences Related to Communicating Threats
What you say online can follow you into the offline world. The North Carolina man in our story admitted to multiple instances of threatening others online.
Furthermore, because some of these other people were outside of North Carolina, his activities were charged as a federal crime. It was considered to have used interstate commerce, which can significantly increase penalties leveled against someone.
There are other charges that frequently coincide with communicating threats. For example, in situations where a protective order is present, communicating threats can be made worse.
When Communicating Threats Violates a Protective Order
The primary charge in that situation would be violating the protective order, which is a Class A1 misdemeanor. That alone carries up to 150 days in prison.
Combining that with the charge of communicating threats, though, and you are charged with a felony. The Class H felony that is a likely charge carries up to 25 months in prison.
When Communicating Threats Coincides with Domestic Violence
Another charge that may coincide with communicating threats is domestic violence. Simple assault in North Carolina is a class 2 misdemeanor. Commit assault on a family member, though, and it’s a whole different matter.
Threats of violence may count as domestic violence if you and the victim have a personal relationship. That means an instance of losing your cool on Facebook can result in effective house arrest or forced treatment at a medical institute.
Other penalties may also be levied, such as undergoing psychiatric treatment, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, and remaining at home except for specific reasons.
Working with An Experienced NC Criminal Defense Attorney
Ultimately, threatening someone is never okay. However, not all threats are considered equal according to North Carolina law. if you or a loved one has made that mistake, you must deal with it effectively.
There are many ways that the charge of communicating threats can incur higher penalties. Coinciding charges can make matters worse.
Working with an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney is one way to ensure your best possible defense.