NC Communicating Threats

Communicating a threat is when a person threatens a “reasonable person” in a way they believe the threat would be carried out, causing fear.

In North Carolina, communicating a threat is governed under General Statute G.S. 14-277.1, which lays out the details that make communicating a threat a criminal offense. If a person willfully threatens to harm another person physically or that person’s child, sibling, spouse, or dependent, or even personal property.

North Carolina takes threats seriously and can lead to the convicted serving jail time, paying fines, and having a criminal record which can affect potential job opportunities and limit housing options.

Is it a Crime to Threaten Someone?

One of the most commonly charged offenses, arising out of personal disputes, in North Carolina is communicating threats. Many people might assume that since communicating threats is an offense in which the threat is communicated, orally or in written form, it is less serious than other misdemeanors, such as simple assault. However, this misnomer is untrue as communicating threats is a Class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina, which can carry active time in jail if convicted. At Greenwood Law, our attorneys have the experience and ability to advocate for any of our clients charged with communicating threats in North Carolina.

To protect against abuse, NC criminal laws have limitations to communicating threats charges. Communicating threats is subject to interpretation, but if threats are obvious exaggerations or inappropriate jokes, then it’s possible the case will be dismissed.

But, interpretations can lead to a gray area where the “reasonable person standard” determines if the communicated threat should be considered criminal. Determining whether it was actually a threat or not is based on whether a reasonable person, in the same circumstances and with the same knowledge of the threat, believes there was serious intention to inflict harm or damage.

So, even if it was considered a harmless joke to you, but you said it to a person with a group of people friends who all took it wrong, this could lead to criminal charges.

In situations like this, you should not leave it to chance; contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight on your behalf.

Charged with Communicating Threats in North Carolina

Communicating threats is a charge that alleges that a person in North Carolina has:

  1. Threatened to physically injure a person or a person’s family member;
  2. Communicated the threat orally, in writing, or other means (non-verbal, etc.);
  3. Communicated a threat such that a reasonable person would believe the threat to be credible (or believable); and/or
  4. Communicated a threat such that the person threatened believes it will be carried out.

It’s important to remember that a charge of communicating threat is a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a longer, potential sentence than a simple assault charge!

If you are charged with communicating threats, it is extremely important to hire an experienced attorney in order to defend yourself and avoid potential consequences, such as an attorney at Greenwood Law. The district attorney must prove every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, many times this charge is issued via a “private warrant,” which means that the prosecuting witness swore out the charges. This means there will be different rules surrounding how you are served with the charge.

Example 1: First-time Offender with No Prior Criminal Record

Charge: Class 1 misdemeanor for communicating threats.

Penalty: If the defendant doesn’t have a criminal record, the court may give a lighter sentence. This could include probation, community service, or a short jail term, of up to maybe 30 days.

It’s possible the court may order the defendant to attend anger management classes or issue a no-contact order.

Example 2: Repeat Offender with a History of Similar Offenses

Charge: Class 1 misdemeanor for communicating threats, with stiffer penalties due to prior convictions.

Penalty: The court is likely to give a harsher sentence to a defendant with a history of similar offenses. This could involve a maximum jail term of 120 days, a higher fine, and stricter probation conditions upon release from jail.

The court may also consider the defendant’s previous convictions when determining the sentence, heightening the need for a no-contact order and rehabilitation.

Example 3: Communicating Threats Involving Domestic Violence

Charge: Class 1 misdemeanor for communicating threats, with additional considerations for domestic violence.

Penalty: When the threat is part of domestic violence, the court may give specific penalties in order to protect the victim from future harm.

These could include a longer jail term, mandatory domestic violence counseling for the one making the threats, and a protective order restricting contact with the victim.

Where child custody is a concern, the charges will likely influence the court’s decisions when it comes to custody and visitation rights.

The attorneys at Greenwood Law are capable of handling every aspect of a case involving communicating threats and we will guide you every step of the way.

Consult A North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney Today

These are serious charges that can affect your livelihood in numerous ways. You have the right to a lawyer. Lawyers know how to argue cases to district attorneys and to the Court. You also have the right to a fair trial, and you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. At Greenwood Law, we will ensure that no one in the criminal justice process forgets that.

If you are facing communicating threats charges in Winston-Salem, throughout Forsyth County or elsewhere in the Triad, contact our law firm, Greenwood Law, by calling 336-661-8788. Schedule your free initial consultation over the phone or by using this online contact form. Remember: The best offense starts with a good defense. Call today or contact us online to start protecting your rights.