Many people get mad and say terrible things, like insults, name-calling, and — sometimes — threats. In today’s day and age, when electronic communication has replaced so much verbal communication, angry words can linger forever.

The permanence of those words can not only have a toxic impact on relationships, but also serve as evidence in criminal cases. Sending written or electronic threats is against the Law. Whether the threat was a one-off occurrence or part of a cyberstalking case, it is a crime. When you are accused of this crime, seek out the help of a West Palm Beach written and electronic threats Lawyer. Call one of our criminal Attorneys, who can help you craft the best possible defense for your case and protect your rights along the way.

Written Threats

Florida Statutes § 836.10 outlaws written threats to harm or kill people. It expands on the previous statute outlawing these threats. Previously, to prosecute someone for a written threat, they needed to directly threaten the target or their family members. Now, it is a crime to make a written threat, even if the Defendant does not send the threat to the intended victim.

In fact, it is a crime even if the target never sees the threat. Expanding the law helps the police prosecute cyberbullying and cyberstalking. It includes threats via emails, texts, letters, social media posts, and other forms of written or electronic communication.

Additionally, the law does not require a named target. It can target a group of people instead of an individual. A prime example of this would be social media posts threatening to shoot up a school or other public area. The threat does not have to be credible — it is enough for the person making it to want to scare people.

While the lawmakers may have had good intentions, an Attorney in West Palm Beach who defends people accused of written and electronic threats may argue the law is overly broad. It penalizes speech, even if a threat is not credible.

Terroristic Threats

Written and electronic threats fall under the umbrella of terroristic threats. These involve a threat to commit violence. A person can make the threat in person, on the phone, or via written or electronic means.

Traditionally, terroristic threats required that the statement be credible. To prove those charges, the prosecution had to do more than show a Defendant made a threat — they also had to confirm the Defendant could carry it out or had the ability to do so.

State law does away with the credibility element. When a Defendant makes the threat to cause fear, it does not matter whether they could carry out the threat. That makes context extremely important. A West Palm Beach written and electronic threats Attorney may use circumstances to demonstrate a Defendant did not intend to cause fear.

Penalties for a Threat Conviction

This crime is a second-degree Felony that can carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Just like the context can impact whether someone will be convicted, it also affects the sentence a person receives.

When the Defendant has a history of violence, the threat may be seen as more severe, especially if the target was a victim of prior violence. A Defendant with a criminal history that includes similar violent offenses also has greater exposure. A West Palm Beach Defense Attorney may explore settlement options for a written and electronic threats charge when the proof is substantial and “damage control” may be the best option.

Consult a West Palm Beach Written and Electronic Threats Attorney

Getting charged with a Felony can be intimidating — especially if you never intended to harm anyone. Written proof of an offense does not mean you should plead guilty or that you will be convicted. A West Palm Beach written and electronic threats Lawyer can take several approaches in your defense.

They may argue the evidence is insufficient to prove that you sent the threat. Another defense is that you lacked the requisite intent to cause fear. Many people speak in a hyperbolic manner that seems to threaten violence but is not actually threatening. Finally, they may argue the law violates your First Amendment right to free speech. To find out more about potential defenses, schedule your consultation today.

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