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Ali Kirk
Ali Kirk, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 244
Experience:  14+ years experience in misdemeanor and felony trials and appeals.
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What are the charges you can face if you send someone a threat

Customer Question

What are the charges you can face if you send someone a threat text message about them owing you money?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Ali Kirk replied 5 years ago.
Hello,
Thank you for your question.

So I can better assist you, can you tell me what state this was in?

Also, by threaten, do you mean you threatened to harm or kill them? Or just threatened to sue them, etc?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The message was sent because this man ows me money for 6 months now and ignores my phone calls and text messages and emails.. I got fed up and reacted wrong. The text message said.. I remember where you live for your saftey i suggest you send me my f**king money because im tired of waitng 6 moths... I didnt think and i just sent it and now he says he will see me in court and is sending to the cops.. This is in the state of New Jersey and i just wanted to know what i had to look foward to... Not like it matters but i have no idea where he lives i just thought ide get his attentions which i did. THANKS
Expert:  Ali Kirk replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your quick reply.

It's possible that you could be charged with extortion under New Jersey law. Specifically, the statute on extortion provides:

N.J.S.A. 2C:20-5 provides as follows:

A person is guilty of theft by extortion if he purposely and unlawfully obtains property of another by extortion. A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;

b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;

c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;

d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;

e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;

f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another's legal claim or defense; or

g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

 

Note that the state must prove the following elements to sustain an indictment for theft by extortion in NJ:(i) the accused obtained property or money of another; (ii) the property or money was obtained as a result of one of the types of threats set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:20-5; (iii) the threat was made with the purpose of obtaining the subject property or money; and (iv) the accused's demand for the property is illegitimate.

The section I bolded is important, because based on the limited facts you've provided me, I believe you may have a defense. That is to say, if you provided a service or property to him (painted his house, fixed his car, sold him a dining room set, whatever) you cannot be convicted of extortion.

Extortion is a crime of the second degree in New Jersey, punishable by five to ten years in a state prison.

Alternatively, you may find yourself charged with assault.

The law concerning simple assault in NJ is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1 and provides:

a. Simple Assault. A person is guilty of assault if he:

(1) Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or

(2) negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or

(3) Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

Simple Assault is a disorderly persons offense unless committed in a flight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly persons offense.

 

The offense of simple assault is somewhat unique insofar as it can arise under multiple scenarios in terms of purpose or intent; that is, the charge is not limited to situations where an individual had the purpose and intent to assault someone. In this regard, a person may be found guilty under the simple assault statute if he acted either purposefully, knowingly, recklessly or negligently. The law also imposes criminal liability for "attempted" conduct which is somewhat unusual under our Criminal Code. The offense of attempted simple assault is provided for under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a) and may arise when an individual attempts to cause bodily injury to another or where an individual puts an individual in fear of imminent serious bodily injury by engaging in

 

The simple assault law make repeated reference to the term "bodily injury". Bodily injury is defined as physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. In other words, bodily injury contemplates some physical contact with another individual's body, whether it be actual or attempted. The term "serious bodily injury" takes the situation further in terms of the describing the extent of physical contact. Serious bodily injury refers to an injury which involves a substantial risk of death or causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of a body function.

 

Generally, simply assault is a disorderly conduct offense, with jail sentences ranging from 0-6 months, fines ranging from $0-$1000 and probation as ordered by the court. Of course, it is possible to get a lower sentence, too, especially if this is a first offense.

 

Here, I bolded and underlined the important section of the statute. Here, you threatened harm -however, this seems like a weaker charge. You didn't "physically" threaten him with harm, you did so through a text message. Furthermore, the harm wouldn't be "imminent", you would actually have to drive over and do harm.

 

These are just a couple of possibilities, provided for general reference. Remember that it is also possible that nothing comes of this-either the person doesn't go to the police, or the State/District Attorney's office refuses to bring formal charges, etc. My suggestion is that if you are arrested and/or charged, you immediately seek the advice of a local criminal defense attorney regarding this matter. Typically, attorneys with 1-5 years experience offer lower fees, as well.

 

Good luck to you. If you have any additional questions, please press the reply button, and I will be happy to assist you further.

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Ali Kirk, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 244
Experience: 14+ years experience in misdemeanor and felony trials and appeals.
Ali Kirk and 4 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Yes, this would be my first offense.... I thank you very much for your time and effort for the information i make sure i push accept so you can get paid. Dont need a threating text messages.. Thank you very much Ali and im sure ill talk to you in the future for further information.
Expert:  Ali Kirk replied 5 years ago.
It was my pleasure. I hope I was of some assistance. If you have questions in the future, you can always start a question with "For Ali Kirk" so I will know it's for me. Good luck to you.

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