What is Threats in the District of Columbia

What is Threats in DC

What is threats in DC?  Threats can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor crime in the District of Columbia.   Felony Threats requires in addition to bodily injury that you threaten to kidnap any person or physically damage the property of any person.  Misdemeanor threats only requires that you threaten bodily injury on a person.    The Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia has traditionally interpreted the elements of this misdemeanor to be the same as the felony counterpart.   In  order for the prosecutor to prove either misdemeanor or felony threats in the District of Columbia the prosecutor must show:

  • uttered words to another person
  • that a reasonable person would believe that the threatened harm would take place
  • that the defendant acted with the purpose to threaten or with knowledge that his words would be perceived as a threat

The Prosecutor is not required to prove that the defendant intended to carry out the threat.   It is also not necessary that the complaining witness actually hear the words.
See – Carrell v. United States, 165 A.3d 314 (D.C. 2017) (en banc)

Whats the Maximum Penalty for Threats

The maximum penalty for Misdemeanor Threats is 6 months and/or $1000.00 dollars.  See DC Code§ 22–407

The maximum penalty for Felony Threats is 20 years and/or $50,000.00 dollars See DC Code § 22–1810

Will I go to Jail for Threats?

An attorney can not guarantee whether you will go to jail; however, we can tell you based on our experience whether you are likely to go to jail.  Most first offenders for misdemeanors do not go to jail.    In fact, the bigger issue when one is charged with misdemeanor threats is trying to avoid the criminal conviction.    If you are charged with Felony Threats, whether you go to jail depends on a variety of factors but probably most importantly on your District of Columbia Voluntary Sentencing Guideline scores.  

Could I get Diversion for Misdemeanor Threats in DC?

Some people charged with misdemeanor threats in DC are eligible for diversion. Diversion is a way to
dismiss the case without a getting a conviction and having a criminal Record. You need to make
sure you discuss different diversion options with a threats defense attorney because it can
still have deportation  even if you not convicted.   Felony threats is not eligible for diversion.

Am I required to go to Court for a Threats Charge?

If you are charged with threats in the District of Columbia you will be required to go to Court.
A good criminal defense attorney will fight to get their clients case dismissed.  When you are charged with threats you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Rollins and Chan attorneys are attorneys that have handled hundreds of threats cases in the District of Columbia and will protect your rights. We will go to DC Superior Court and be at every hearing with you. We have over 22 years of criminal law experience. The United States Attorney’s for the District of Columbia prosecutes threat cases. If the matters go to trial, most cases are eligible for a  jury trial. You will have trial before a Judge in DC Superior Court.

My Charge says Attempted Threats, What is that?

The U.S. Attorney routinely charges attempted threats in lieu of  misdemeanor threats.  Attempted threats is essentially the same thing as misdemeanor threats.  They charge attempted threats so that you are not eligible for a jury trial because attempted threats has a maximum penalty of 180 days and/or $1000.00 dollar fine.    Attempted Threats is a misdemeanor criminal offense.  

So What is a Typical Diversion Resolution for Misdemeanor Threats

People charged with threats in the District of Columbia are required to appear. If you are not
able to make the initial appearance, your attorney can request a postponement of the hearing until a
new date. Many people charged with threats try to avoid a trial and/or conviction by agreeing
to diversion options.

 Deferred Prosecution Agreement – 4 months – 32 hours of community service (Sample Agreement)

 Deferred Sentencing Agreement – 6 months – 48 hours of community service. (Sample Agreement)

Diversion is not automatically given. Your attorney will have to advocate with the prosecutor in order
to qualify for diversion options. If you are charged with Threats in the District of Columbia
you should contact an attorney that has handled threats cases.