Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.
Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.
Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.
Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Dealing with a criminal threat charge in New York can be really scary and confusing. I totally get it – you’re probably freaking out about what’s gonna happen next. I would be too! The good news is that there are some solid legal defenses that can help fight these types of charges. In this article, we’ll break down what actually constitutes a criminal threat, the specific NY laws around these charges, and the top defenses that experienced criminal defense attorneys use to protect their clients.
A criminal threat charge means the prosecutor believes you intentionally or knowingly made statements that put someone in fear for their safety. These threats have to be pretty specific though – just venting anger or blowing off steam won’t rise to the level of a crime in most cases. The threat also has to seem credible to the target. If no reasonable person would take what you said seriously, then there likely is no crime.
The actual NY statute that criminalizes these threats covers situations where you:
So those are the basics of what constitutes a criminal threat. Next let’s talk about the specific NY laws that apply.
There are a few different criminal statutes in NY that cover threats against others:
As you can see, NY takes threats, harassment, and stalking issues pretty seriously. These types of charges often move quickly from arrest to prosecution. So having an experienced NY criminal defense lawyer in your corner is critical.
The good news is that there are a number of solid legal defenses that apply to threat charges. An attorney can evaluate the specifics of your case and determine which of these defenses could get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely:
The first line of defense is arguing that what you said or did doesn’t meet the standards for criminal liability. As discussed above, these charges require very specific elements like causing reasonable fear in the victim. Was what you said just an offhand venting of frustration? Did the supposed “victim” really take your statements seriously or were they just trying to get you in trouble? These are the kinds of questions an attorney will ask to challenge the prosecution’s version of events.
First Amendment free speech rights also come into play when dealing with threat charges. Yes, you can be prosecuted for speech that places someone in genuine fear – but there are limits. Hyperbole, exaggeration, heated arguments – these may seem scary in the moment but typically would not constitute criminal threats. An experienced lawyer can argue that your statements were constitutionally protected opinions or expressions, not credible threats of violence.
In some cases, criminal threat allegations come up in contexts like difficult divorces, employee disputes, neighbor feuds or custody battles. There is always a chance the supposed victim made up or greatly exaggerated the threats out of anger, mental instability or a desire for revenge. Your attorney can investigate whether there’s evidence of false accusations or retaliation against you.
If you do legitimately struggle with something like anger management, impulse control or a personality disorder, your lawyer can argue that you lacked the requisite criminal intent or competence. The goal would be to get charges dropped and steer you toward counseling or diversion programs rather than jail time.
So in closing, criminal threat charges should always be taken seriously, but experienced criminal defense attorneys have a number of strategies to challenge allegations and protect clients’ rights. If you or a loved one are facing charges in NY, don’t go it alone – consult with a lawyer right away about building an aggressive legal defense. We get how scary and confusing this can be. The good news is that solid legal defenses exist. So take a deep breath and focus on finding an experienced attorney to fight for you. You’ve got this!
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