Has political correctness finally taken over the Connecticut criminal court system? It seems like the moment someone posts or says something just a little bit offensive, a social media cycle of condemnation, criticism and contempt immediately follows. This PC bandwagon mentality has spilled over into Connecticut law enforcement where Stamford, Greenwich, Westport and Darien police are quick to make arrests for Threatening in the Second Degree whenever an exchange of harsh or aggressive words are spoken, written, posted, texted or emailed. I’m not talking about language like “I’m going to murder you and your family tomorrow with my gun.” I’m talking about equivocal language, hyperbolic language, and offensive and inappropriate joking around. As the best Stamford and Greenwich Connecticut lawyers will tell you, there was a time when the First Amendment protected people from arrests in Connecticut.
Not anymore. Now it’s criminal…
The top Stamford, Greenwich and Darien Connecticut criminal lawyers know that threats of physical serious physical injury and threats of committing a violent crime with the intent of terrorizing someone are the most common grounds for an arrest of Threatening in the Second Degree under CGS 53a-62. Examples are threats to harm a bill collector: “I’m going to come to your offices and shoot up the place if you keep calling me!” In contrast, First Degree Threatening under CGS 53a-61aa prohibits threats that involve hazardous substances that cause evacuation. Remember, the threats can be verbal, electronic, telephonic, written, or online through social media. As the best Stamford, Greenwich, Westport and New Canaan Connecticut criminal attorneys and lawyers appreciate, there are verbal and written communications that are in fact aggressive, but may not be illegal. In a society where people spend hours of their time in online fantasy chat rooms, it’s possible that people sometimes get carried away with aggressive language. There are also situations when people have had too much to drink at a bar and party. These people can sometimes shout out threats or profanities that can lead to an arrest in Connecticut for Threatening in the Second Degree. Remember, police have to be able to prove (1) that you actually made these threats, and (2) that you did so with the specific intent to terrorize the individual. Challenging the intent element is critical in fighting your Connecticut Threatening arrest. As a result, your top Connecticut criminal attorney must force this issue with state prosecutors.
Police and prosecutors must prove you actually specifically intended to terrorize or harm someone. Top Connecticut Threatening Second Degree criminal lawyers know that joking around, or blurting out threats without any intent to harm anyone may be in poor form and taste, but it is NOT illegal. The best Stamford, Westport and Darien Connecticut juvenile criminal lawyers and attorneys frequently defend teenagers in high schools and middle schools who are arrested in the Stamford and Bridgeport juvenile courts for making violent threats against teachers and other students. Understandably, schools are not taking chances with these threats. They immediately engage law enforcement and the Connecticut juvenile court system to vet these cases out thoroughly. Thankfully, top Connecticut juvenile lawyers who fight juvenile Threatening Second Degree arrests know how to de-escalate these cases quickly by getting the best psychiatrists and experts involved quickly so that these Connecticut juvenile arrests for Threatening can be dismissed with no permanent criminal record for your Connecticut high school student arrested for Threatening.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution (and its State of Connecticut Constitution equivalent) provide a proverbial defense shield for individuals to speak their minds, even if their speech and language is offensive, unpopular or alarming to many people. Just a few categories of speech remain illegal—such as language that reveals or threatens clear and present danger to individuals, law enforcement, government, property or mass transportation. As a result, the best Stamford, Greenwich and Fairfield Connecticut lawyers understand that police, prosecutors and judges must balance an individual’s First Amendment free speech rights against any alleged criminal conduct. In cases where the First Amendment is in fact a viable defense to your Connecticut Threatening Second Degree arrest, your lawyer may file a motion to dismiss early on in your case to gain some leverage in pre-trial discussions with the prosecutor / state’s attorney. In terms of strategy, in cases like these where state and federal constitutional defenses are compelling enough, filing pre-trial dismissal and suppression motions can force the prosecutor to look at your case from a cost-benefit perspective. The goal is that the prosecutor just may decide to drop the case rather than spend the time and money in prosecuting a case they know that they will ultimately lose on First Amendment constitutional grounds.
As a Class A misdemeanor, the penalties for an arrest in Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport or Darien Connecticut for Threatening in the Second Degree per CGS 53a-62 can carry up to one year in prison, a maximum $2000 fine and probation. Even more seriously, First Degree Threatening arrests in Connecticut are Class D felonies and expose you to 5 years in jail, a $5000 fine and probation. In either case, the stakes are high so be sure to contact any of the top Connecticut criminal law firms to handle your case.
The team of criminal lawyers at Mark Sherman Law have the experience, compassion and know-how to fight your arrest in Connecticut for Threatening in the Second Degree under CGS 53a-62. While police and prosecutors may think otherwise, you will likely have several defenses to your Connecticut Threatening arrest and just didn’t know it. So call a Connecticut criminal lawyer at Mark Sherman Law today to start the process in trying to get your Connecticut Threatening arrest dismissed and expunged off your record. We are available 24/7 at (203) 358-4700.