What is Criminal Threatening?
Under NH law, you can be charged with Criminal Threatening if you say or do something to make someone think that you are immediately going to hurt them.
Here are some scenarios that we see frequently:
1) Criminal Threatening By Physical Conduct:
Two people are arguing over a parking spot. Client says to the motorist, “Move your car or else!” Client then pulls out a large knife and waives it in the air.
Even though Client never said to the motorist that he was going to stab or kill him, by waiving the knife around, he caused the motorist to believe that he was in imminent danger of being harmed. Thus, a Criminal Threatening charge ensues.
2) Criminal Threatening By Verbal Communication:
Boyfriend and Girlfriend are arguing about who forgot to pay the cable bill. Boyfriend says to girlfriend in a quiet tone with a menacing glare, “I am going to hit you in the face, right now.” Girlfriend honestly believes that Boyfriend is about to punch her. She calls the police.
Boyfriend will likely be charged with Criminal Threatening because his words led Girlfriend to honestly believe that he was about to immediately hurt her.
It doesn’t matter if Boyfriend was intending to hurt Girlfriend, if the case can be made that he merely uttered these words with the intent to “terrorize” her.
3) Criminal Threatening By Way of Graffiti or Placement of Object on Property:
a) Neighbor A and Neighbor B get into an argument over who has the nicest BMW. Neighbor A waits until dark. Neighbor A walks over to Neighbor B’s driveway. He then ties a hangman’s noose rope and places it on the hood of Neighbor B’s BMW. Neighbor B wakes up the next morning and finds the noose on his car. Neighbor B calls the police.
Neighbor A will likely be charged with Criminal Threatening. He will be charged if Neighbor B felt terrorized. But!!!!! – He will also be charged for having attempted to terrorize Neighbor B, even if Neighbor B was not actually terrorized or fearful.
In the eyes of the law, an intent to terrorize someone is just as bad as actually terrorizing someone.
b) Other examples of this type of Criminal Threatening could be the painting of a threatening message or picture on someone’s property. The burning of a cross on someone’s lawn is a classic case of Criminal Threatening (and also a potential hate crime).
4) Criminal Threats Against The Property of Another
a) Old Man Joe is woken up by the loud sound of barking. He looks out the window and sees 12 year old Sally walking her puppy down the street. For the last two weeks, Old Man Joe has been woken by the sound of Sally’s puppy barking and yipping.
Old Man Joe says to himself, “The Hell with it!” He grabs a dull knife out of the peanut butter jar, licks off the peanut butter, takes a swig of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, and walks outside.
He says to young Sally, “Hey! I’ve had it. You see this knife! Well, when you get on the school bus tomorrow, I am going to take this knife and carve your little dog into a pumpkin!” Sally looks at Old Man Joe and begins to cry. She runs home and tells her parents.
An hour later Old Man Joe is woken up once again. This time it is the police. He is arrested and charged with Criminal Threatening for having threatened to commit a crime against the property of another with the intent to terrorize little Sally.
In this case, Sally actually was terrorized that Old Man Joe was actually going to kill her puppy. But, even if Sally was not actually terrorized, Old Man Joe could still be charged for Criminal Threatening, because the evidence strongly suggests that he intended to terrorize little Sally.
It also does not matter whether Old Man Joe ever actually planned on hurting Sally’s puppy.
The lesson you should take from these examples is that actions do not necessarily speak louder than words. Under the Criminal Threatening laws, actions and words receive the same level of attention and scrutiny from law enforcement if there is a threat of violence; a perceived threat of violence; or an intent to terrorize.
If you have a questions please feel free to call or e-mail us.
Our telephone number is: 603-595-5525