Communicating Threats

Blocks that spell out "Threats"

Communicating Threats; A charge commonly seen in North Carolina District Court and as a headline in some of the recent North Carolina Court of Appeals decisions. These charges are of the more typically found in private warrant situations where a private citizen, and not the police, go to the magistrate and take out the charge against the defendant. Punished as a class 1 misdemeanor, this is one of the more serious misdemeanor charges that a person can receive.

The Elements of Communicating Threats:

  1. A willful threat

The first element of communicating threats is the threat itself. First, it is important to know that the threat must be made willfully. Now in order to fall under the charge of communicating threats, the threat does not only have to be of personal harm or bodily injury, although those do qualify. The following threats may result in charges being taken out:

  1. Threats of personal injury, bodily harm, or death made to and about the victim,
  2. Similar threats made about the victim’s children, siblings, spouse, or any other dependents, and
  3. Threats about damaging the property of another.
  1. Communication

The second element of communicating threats is the actual communication of the threat. This communication must be made to the victim of the threat, the person being threatened, and can be done orally, in writing, or any other means. This communication element’s catch all phrase any other means is meant to cover not only the technology of cell phones, text messages, and emails, but also covers social media, and other forms of messaging or posting.

  1. Situational belief

The third element of communicating threats has to do with the manner in which the threat was made and the circumstances around it. This element says that the manner that the threat was made in and the circumstances surrounding the comment have to lead to the threat being reasonably understood to be a threat that is likely to be carried out. This often protects people against being convicted of communicating threats when the situation is clearly a joking or playful situation or where the manner that the threat was made does not lead a reasonable person to believe the threat would be carried out.

  1. Personal belief

Finally, is the subjective belief of the person who received the threat. In order to prove communicating threats the state must prove that the person who received the threat believed that the threat would actually be carried out.

As stated earlier, many of these charges arise from what are commonly referred to as private warrants, this means that a private citizen, often the victim, has gone to the magistrate and taken the charges out against the defendant. It is important that when charged with communicating threats you speak to an attorney because when you get to court the victim will not be the one trying the case against you, the District Attorney’s office will. If convicted, the punishment for communicating threats is a class 1 misdemeanor. This means, that if you have no prior record at all then you will not be eligible for an active sentence, however, very often these convictions carry with them some form of probation and can carry costly fines and court costs.

If you are facing a charge of communicating threats or have questions about any criminal charge please contact us today to speak with one of our knowledgeable Criminal Defense attorneys.