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Is It Illegal to Send Threatening Messages Via Text?

December 10, 2019
By The Wiseman Law Firm

It is unlawful to threaten to cause bodily harm to someone, which includes sending messages through electronic communication such as text messages. State and federal laws prohibit this type of conduct. If the person is convicted, they could be looking at spending years in prison.

What Is Florida’s Law on Texting a Threat?

Under state law, it is illegal for a person to send in writing a threat to cause bodily injury or kill another individual. The message could either be made against the person who received the communication or their family.

The mode of communication can include:

  • Pen and paper,
  • Typed messages, or
  • Electronic means

Additionally, the person who composed the message could either have signed their name it or left it anonymous. Either way, the behavior is a violation of Florida Statute 836.10.

The statute does not only prohibit sending written threats to injure or kill another person but also to threaten to commit a mass shooting or act of terrorism.

Let’s say Alfredo had a bad day at work, where a coworker belittled him for missing an important deadline. Upset about the situation, he sent a text to that colleague, saying he had a gun and would use it the next time they said anything about the way he did his work.

If the coworker reasonably feared for their life, they could report the incident to the police. Alfredo could be charged with making a written threat to kill or do bodily injury, which is a second-degree felony. If he is convicted of this offense, he could be looking at up to 15 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

Do Federal Laws Prohibit Sending Threatening Texts?

Making a written threat via text is not only prohibited by state law but also by federal statutes. Under 18 U.S.C. § 875 transmitting through any type of communication a threat to injure a person is illegal.

As with state law, the threat can be made against the person who received the message or someone else. For instance, say Alfredo made a friend online. The two maintained their relationship by communicating through social media and text messages.

One day, Alfredo decided he wanted to meet the friend in person, but they refused. Mad about being denied, Alfredo drove down to the city where the friend lives. He sent a text saying that he just picked up a gun and will use it to shoot people at a nearby shopping center unless the friend agrees to meet him.

The friend believed Alfredo’s threat was credible and notified law enforcement. Alfredo could be charged with sending a threatening message in interstate commerce. If convicted, he could face up to 5 years in federal prison.

Speak with The Wiseman Law Firm During a Free Consultation

Whether you’ve been charged with a state or federal crime, our attorney will be by your side every step of the way to fight charges. We believe in the presumption of innocence and will build a legal strategy to protect your rights.

For the aggressive defense you need in Orlando, call us at 407-420-4647 or contact us online.

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