Threats to Commit a Crime

The Trouble with Words

Threats to Commit a Crime

Threats to Commit a Crime is a misdemeanor offense with 4 distinct elements. Those elements are:

  1. The defendant expressed an intent to injure a person or property, now or in the future;
  2. the defendant intended their threat to be conveyed to a particular person;
  3. the injury that was threatened, if carried out, would be a crime; and
  4. the person the threat was made to could reasonably believe you would carry it out.

The law also says that you do not need to threaten the victim directly to commit the crime of Threats. If you make the threat to a third party (you tell Joe that if you see Bill again you'll stab him) that will also constitute making a Threat to Commit a Crime.

Further, the law does not say that the target of the threat need ever receive the threat. The law only states that the defendant must have had an intent to convey the threat to a particular person. So even if the supposed victim never was informed of the threat, a defendant can still be found guilty of Threats to Commit a Crime.



The maximum penalty for Threats to Commit a Crime is up to 6 months in jail, or a $100 fine. As an alternative, the statute provides that a defendant may just be ordered to "keep the peace" for a term not to exceed 6 months. This essentially is a 6 month term of probation.

For someone without a long criminal history, a short probation period is the likely outcome of a threats case.


What Can We Do?

The attorneys at Equitas Law have handled many threats cases all across Massachusetts. Threats cases are highly fact driven and are often able to be successfully litigated. Even if you think your case seems clear cut there are a number of ways to deal with the very specific elements of Threats to Commit a Crime.

Contact our experienced trial attorneys today for a free case evaluation.

Some related content...

Criminal Defense FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

NO, you shouldn't! At least not without a lawyer after careful consideration.

Think about it. The police have a job, which is to solve crimes and bring criminal charges. The onlyreason for them to call you is because they are looking for evidence and there is no better evidence than your statement. Very often, they are calling you because they don't have enough evidence to charge you yet and they're looking to make their case with your statements.

They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. There is nothing to "clear up". They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Seriously, don't speak to the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first.

First, unless you have committed a very serious crime, the chances of you going to jail are minimal (especially if you hire a good attorney). In any event, this is not something that typically would happen until many months down the road.

We're not going to lie to you, if the prosecution can meet the burden of proof on your case, there will be consequences, ranging from a slap on the wrist to jail time. Our job is to minimize the consequences and to eliminate them, if possible.

Of course, this depends on the charges, your criminal history and many other factors, so please feel free to reach out and we can give you a more specific answer.

No, no, no, no no! Even if you decide to eventually take responsibility, your lawyer should negotiate the best deal possible. What this means depends entirely the circumstances of your criminal charge, but very often you can take responsibility and still avoid a permanent criminal record. It may also involve:

  • Pre-Trial Probation or Pre-Trial Diversion
  • An outright Dismissal of your charges upon payment of court costs
  • A Continuation Without a Finding, including the length and terms of your probation (after which the case is dismissed)
  • A period of straight probation without a jail or state prison sentence
  • A suspended sentence, where a sentence is imposed, but not served unless probation is violated
  • A lesser sentence to jail or prison and less severe conditions upon release

This is to say nothing of the fact that your case may be winnable on a motion to dismiss or at trial!

In many cases, yes. Some cases have issues that may justify a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence.

Others can and should be taken to trial, or call for a plea as soon as possible so the client can move on with their life.

The decision on what to do really depends on the facts of the case and your individual goals.

This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney who can quickly evaluate your specific case to see if there are any issues worth pursuing.

Related Content:

Strategy and Potential Issues in Massachusetts Criminal Cases

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

No, do NOT talk to the police without a lawyer. They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Their job is to gather evidence of crimes and there is no better evidence than your statement.

It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

It is very possible that you can avoid a criminal record, especially if you don't have a significant criminal history and and it is a relatively minor offense.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our criminal cases cases are handled on a flat fee basis, ranging from a clerk-magistrate's hearing to superior court or federal court cases.

All we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

Of course, it is prefereable to have an attorney at the arraignment, but don't panic! First, you can call or text me at any time and I may be able to be there. If not, take a look at this link for all the information you need:

Arraignment in Massachusetts – What You Need to Know.

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