What is the Penalty for a Murder Threat?

Categories: Criminal Defense

Murder Threat

Note: This post was last updated on February 23, 2023.

Protecting Your Freedom: Aggressive Defense Against Charges for Murder Threats

Did you know that threatening to kill an individual, race of people, and more could result in criminal charges and prison time? Whether you post that threat on social media or call and threaten someone over the phone, threats of bodily harm and homicide are not tolerated at the state or federal level.

You do have rights under the First Amendment, including the protection of your freedom of speech. However, individual acts of freedom of expression, such as murder threats, are not something constitutionally protected, and you could face harsh penalties for it. You need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Communicating the Threat

An actual threat is one that is communicated between the person who intends to murder and the victim. These can be communicated via non-verbal forums, such as text messages, email, social media, and even body language or movements.

Fear and Intent Factors Play a Role

Criminal threats must put the victim in a state of fear, and the intention of the person making the threats also plays a role. If the courts do not believe the person truly intended to murder another person, then the perpetrator is unlikely to face criminal charges. The mental state and the motives behind the threat will be considered.

Federal Laws on Threats

If you threatened to injure someone else severely, you could face federal charges. Federal law prohibits threatening to harm someone and will penalize such with up to five years in a federal penitentiary.

However, all threats are not treated the same. Instead, the Supreme Court recognizes that only actual threats can be punished with such a harsh prison sentence. Therefore, the federal prosecutor must show that the threat was credible and specific enough that a person’s life was in danger.

Colorado’s Stand on Murder Threats

Colorado has strict state laws about threats. In fact, one girl in Colorado was arrested for posting a gun emoji on social media wherein she told people she had a gun in her backpack. Two other Colorado girls were charged with felonies for conspiracy to commit homicide when they threatened a school.

In our state, if you knowingly threaten to cause death to a student, school official, or employee of a school, you are charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor; you could also spend 18 months in jail and pay up to $5,000 in fines (or both). Threats can also include non-school members. In fact, an inmate at the Colorado State Penitentiary wrote threatening letters to President Obama and his court judge; as a result, he received a 46-month sentence just for the threats alone.

Arrested for Threatening to Kill? You Need a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer

Even if your threats are not meant to be taken literally, if the circumstances fit and there is adequate evidence, you could serve serious jail time and face harsh penalties for a threat of harming or killing another.

Therefore, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defense attorney before things escalate. If you are arrested or being questioned for your threats, contact attorney Mark S. Rubinstein as soon as possible. Schedule your consultation by calling us or requesting an appointment online.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.