Threat to Commit Crime

A threat is a declaration of proposed infliction, punishment or injury, which is intended to elicit a negative response. It is a communicated intent to inflict harm or loss on another person. Many people would be surprised to learn that they can be arrested and charged with a threat to commit a crime, even if the threatened act was never carried out. In Massachusetts, threatening another with a crime against his or her person or property is itself a crime under Massachusetts G.L. c. 275, §§ 2-4. Although a threatened crime was not actually committed, a defendant facing charges for this offense may face harsh and lasting repercussions. A conviction for threatening to commit a crime against another’s person or property may result in the following punishments:
  • A sentence in jail for up to 6 months, and/or
  • A fine up to $100, and/or
  • A term of probation, and/or
  • Suspended sentence.
In order to be convicted of this charge, the prosecution must be able to prove four elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. The defendant expressed an intent to injury the alleged victim and/or his or her property, now or in the future;
  2. The defendant intended that it to be conveyed to the alleged victim; 
  3. The injury that was threatened, if carried out, would constitute a crime; and
  4. The defendant made the threat under circumstances which could have reasonably caused the alleged victim to fear that the defendant had both the intention and the ability to carry out the threat.
For purposes of this crime, it is not necessary that the threat be communicated directly to the alleged victim. The element will still be satisfied it if can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended the threat to be conveyed to the alleged victim.

TRUE THREATS
In order to threaten to commit a crime, the threat must be a true threat. Therefore, anyone who makes a threat in jest or a threat that is considered idle cannot be punished under this law. Yet, police officers and prosecutors like to move forward with cases against defendants with threats charges in Massachusetts even though the facts of certain cases suggest that the words used by the person did not amount to a threat, especially where the individual has not intention or ability to make good on a purported threat.  On the other hand, in order to protect the safety of the public, true threats will not be considered protected speech under the Constitution. In Virginia v. Black, the Supreme Court defined true threats as "those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals." The United States Supreme Court has held that true threats are not protected under the Constitution based on three justifications: preventing fear, preventing the disruption that follows from that fear, and diminishing the likelihood that the threatened violence will occur.

Criminal Threats Defense Lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts
When you face charges for criminal threats in Boston or anywhere else in Massachusetts, you want a lawyer who has the reputation and experience to provide you with the most aggressive and persuasive defense strategy. Criminal threats in Massachusetts are a serious crime and can, if convicted, result in a potential prison sentence; therefore it is vital that you immediately contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy. We have the knowledge and criminal defense attorney experience in the greater Boston area that can help successfully defend you against charges of criminal threats. We can help craft a solid defense aimed at clearing you of the charges or minimizing your exposure to harsh penalties and jail time. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy 24/7 today by calling 617-367-0450 or submitting our online contact form directly to Attorney Murphy.

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