The Crime of Threatening to Commit a Crime in Massachusetts
Threatening to Commit a Crime
Most people do not realize that threatening to commit a crime in Massachusetts is actually a crime itself. Someone who makes a threat against someone or property can be charged with a crime under M.G.L. Chapter 275, Section 2. While a threat to commit a crime is clearly not as serious as actually committing the crime itself, it is still a criminal matter and charges for making a threat to commit a crime should be taken and defended against seriously. The gravity of the charge is fact specific. The more serious the threat the more ardent the prosecution.
Defending Against Charges of Threatening to Commit a Crime
There is a line between what is considered to be free speech under the law and what is considered to constitute a threat made against a person or property. It is well established that free speech is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but when words – either spoken or written – are of a threatening nature, the person making the threat has often gone too far.
Defending charges of making a threat can be a tough legal challenge, but there may be a free speech defense available to you. Criminal defense strategies depend on the specific circumstances of your case, and you should discuss your legal options with an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer like me as soon as possible. Your words might not rise to the level of a threat or may have been taken out of context in a way that can be misconstrued as a threat. The language of the Massachusetts statute for threatening to commit a crime is broad and ambiguous, and something what was said or written might be enough to entice a police officer to make an arrest based on probable cause, but might not be sufficient for a judge or jury to convict on the theory of beyond a reasonable doubt.
Massachusetts Case Law on The Crime of Threats
Words alone, including words that express a threat do not satisfy the elements of G.L. c. 275 Section 2. Rather, the words must be communicated to the intended victim. This can be done directly or indirectly. In other words, if someone uses threatening words to a third person without the intent of these words being passed on to the victim the charge of threatening to commit a crime cannot stand. This proposition was well articulated in the case of Commonwealth v. Furst decided by the Massachusetts Appeals Court in 2002. Based on the complicated nature on this charge, you need an experienced lawyer to review your case to make sure there actually is probable cause for a summons to issue on this charge or even rises to the level of arrest. Call me today for a free consultation.