Residents of Washington State have a right to freedom from harm – actual or threatened. Revised Code of Washington, Section 9A.46.020 forbids anyone from threatening another person with property damage in Seattle. Whether the threats were communicated through the internet, the phone, or in person, you can face serious criminal charges.
Even false accusations can sometimes lead to a conviction if the prosecution team is convincing enough. You might have to deal with hefty fines and incarceration without proper defense. A Seattle criminal justice attorney can explain the worst-case scenarios and advise how best to improve the outcomes.
Is Threatening to Damage a Person’s Property a Felony or Misdemeanor?
Simply saying that you will damage another person’s property can be a gross misdemeanor in Seattle. You might be punished with:
- Fines of up to $5,000
- A year in jail
The punishment could be elevated if you:
- Threaten to murder someone involved in a criminal trial
- Have been convicted of the exact charges before
The above circumstances can result in you being charged with a Class C felony. In that case, the penalties could be:
- A fine of $10,000
- 5-year imprisonment
Speak to an experienced criminal threats lawyer in Seattle to learn more about how the crime is classified.
What Needs Proof Before One is Penalized for This Offense?
Accused persons cannot be convicted and bear the consequences of criminal threats offense, until it is established that they are indeed guilty. Your actions must meet all the elements of the crime, and the prosecution has a burden of proving that. They must present evidence of:
- You threatening to damage the other person’s property physically
- The alleged victim reasonably believed that you could actually destroy their property
Without proof of the above elements of the crime, the charge might not see the light of day. Notably, cases are often thrown out for insufficient evidence in Seattle. A criminal defense attorney can tell when the prosecution doesn’t have enough proof to convict you of criminal threats successfully.
How Can I Have the Penalties Reduced in Seattle?
Being a wobbler offense, threatening to damage another person’s property can be punished as a felony or a misdemeanor. The punishment for felonies is usually more severe than that attached to misdemeanors. Having your charges reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor or anything less serious could benefit you.
The prosecution sometimes makes mistakes and could charge you with a felony, yet your actions meet the legal definition of a misdemeanor. A skilled criminal threats lawyer in Seattle can scrutinize your charge sheet to see if there are mistakes that can warrant reduced charges.
How Can I Avoid the Penalties Altogether?
The best way to beat the penalties for threatening to damage a person’s property is to invest in a good defense. If someone is trying to accuse you falsely, your attorney can find creative ways to critique their pieces of evidence until the judge sees it for what it is – false.
In instances where the alleged victim misinterpreted your statement, you could show the court that your intentions were contrary to what the person ended up believing. Basically, the best defense is dependent on the facts of the circumstances. Find a criminal threats lawyer in Seattle experienced in formulating award-winning defenses.
What Kind of Attorney Can Protect Me From These Penalties?
A simple threat can leave you paying thousands of dollars in fines and prolonged jail or prison stays. But if you invest in your defense team, you are likely to get better outcomes. You need a lawyer with deep knowledge of the criminal threat laws in Washington State.
Experience is also necessary when hiring a criminal threats attorney because familiarity with similar cases impacts how well they can get the job done. The mode of gathering evidence when the accusations are an outright lie and when it is a misunderstanding might be different. So, just make sure that you hire an attorney with skills to help you escape severe criminal penalties.
What Other Court-Ordered Requirements Come With This Charge?
If you are arrested for threatening to damage another person’s property, you can get a release to await trial. However, the court might order you to:
- Refrain from threatening, intimidating, contacting, or interfering with the alleged victim and their household or family members
- Refrain from visiting the alleged victim’s place of employment, business, school, or home
As uncomfortable as the requirements might be, it is essential to adhere to them. Violating the conditions is a misdemeanor with its own additional penalties. So, make sure that you get a certified copy of the requirements from the court clerk to familiarize yourself with them.
What Can I Expect During a Trial for Criminal Threats?
It is during the trial that the judge reads your verdict. The prosecution team begins by presenting their case and backing it up with evidence gathered. After that, the defense team gets a chance to cross-examine witnesses and present its own pieces of evidence. The goal is usually to plant seeds of doubt among the jury members.
If the prosecutor’s case doesn’t convince the court, it can easily dismiss the case. Thus, your defense team must prepare adequately for trial. It is advisable to begin working with a Seattle criminal threats lawyer as soon as you are charged because building a strategic defense needs time.
Lawyers Representing and Fighting for the Accused
A conviction for threatening damage to another person’s property could affect you now and in the future. If it is registered in your criminal record, judges will always use it as a reference point in their verdicts going forward. Fighting the charges is a great way to safeguard your well-being now and in months or years.
Our attorneys can represent you and use their experience to get you the best possible outcomes. You simply have to give them all the incident’s details, and they will develop an excellent defense strategy. Make that call today to get started.