It is a Saturday night out at the local watering hole and things get out of hand. A person gets upset and threatens to punch out another patron. Is it a crime in Sapulpa? The answer is, maybe. Here is what you need to know about threatening a violent act in Oklahoma.
Threatening a Violent Act in Oklahoma
Just threatening someone with a violent act in Oklahoma is a crime. This can mean a threat made during an altercation in a bar, but it could also mean threatening to hurt someone in order to get them to do what you want.
The crime in Oklahoma encompasses both the planning and threatening of a violent act. Sometimes a threat can be spontaneous. Sometimes, it involves planning a violent act. Both are illegal.
Oklahoma law defines both the “planning” and the “threat” somewhat differently. Threatening a violent act is defined as a person who threatens to perform an act of violence which involves serious bodily injury or death. The threat involved must encompass either serious bodily injury or death. “I will kill you” will qualify under this statute, but “I will slap you” would not. So, the type of threat made is important. This crime does not actually require any contact between the perpetrator and victim. The threat alone is enough if the bodily injury threatened is severe enough.
The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in the county jail in addition to a fine of up to $1,000. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1378.
Planning a Violent Act
Oklahoma defines planning a violent act as:
- attempting, conspiring, or endeavoring to perform an act intended to involve serious bodily injury or death; or
- devising a plan or scheme of action to cause another person to suffer serious bodily injury or death
- with the intent to perform the violence, either alone, or conspiring with others.
The crime is treated as a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The difference between threatening a violent act and planning a violent act may seem trivial, but the difference could be huge in terms of penalties. While a spontaneous threat can be frightening for everyone involved, there is no real malicious intent involved. Planning a violent attack on someone does involve malicious intent — and in Oklahoma, that intent matters.
Serious Bodily Injury or Death Requirement
The law requires that the threat involve an intention to inflict either serious bodily injury or death. The prosecution carries the burden of proving that the intent was to threaten or cause serious bodily injury or death in order to secure a conviction.
A threat of minor injury will not suffice. This may provide an avenue of defense for you to explore with your attorney if you are being charged.
You need an experienced Sapulpa criminal defense attorney to help you through every step of a criminal prosecution against you.
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