People v. DePasquale, No. 2016 KN 069749, 2017 NY Slip Op. 50586(U) (May 1, 2017).


Blogger’s Note:  While this opinion is of necessity factually specific, the array of examples of criminal “true threats” may aid professionals in evaluating evidence.


Defendant texted informant to say she should “watch when I find you,” and instructed her to come outside without her child.  Informant reported fear of imminent physical injury, alarm and annoyance.

Where a message does not convey an intent to commit future violence or is not specific, the court found, there is no “true threat” excepted from federal and state guarantees that all may speak freely.

“True threats” must be unambiguous.  Other opinions provide the following examples:

  • “I’m gonna kill you…if you ever let my baby see another man…”
  • “If I see you with another woman I’ll [omitted] you up…”
  • “If you keep my son away…I’m going to put a bullet in your head.”

No such clear message was present in the text defendant sent, which could imply physical harm but which could also demand communication without the child.  “Watch when I find you” is not clear that violence in intended.  There must be a clear and present danger to support aggravated harassment charges.  The defendant’s motion to dismiss was granted.

People v. DePasquale, 2017 NY Slip Op 50586(U) (N.Y. Crim. Ct., 2017)

 

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