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Threats of Death or Bodily Injury to a Person or Member of His Family in Virginia

Posted by Bryan Jones | Feb 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

In a moment of rage, we sometimes say things we don't quite mean, like: I will kill you! There's a difference, though, in actually saying it and meaning it. Even if you didn't mean it though, you may still find yourself in trouble with the law. In Virginia, it's a crime to threaten someone with death or bodily injury or to threaten a member of that person's family.  

At Bryan J. Jones, LLC, it is our mission to provide the best criminal defense possible for our clients. This type of crime can be tricky to defend, but that said – there are always two sides to the story. We will develop a defense strategy that

  1. holds the state, judge, and jury accountable to the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; and
  2. incorporates your side of the story with the intention to win an acquittal at best or, in the least, puts us in a position to negotiate the best plea deal for you.

If you live in Charlottesville, Virginia, or in the greater metropolitan area, contact criminal defense attorney Bryan J. Jones to discuss the circumstances of your case and to get started on the best defense possible. In the meantime, here's an overview of what this criminal offense involves.

What is the crime known in Virginia as Threats of Death or Bodily Injury to a Person or Member of His Family?

The criminal offense of Threats of Death or Bodily Injury to a Person or Member of His Family is something often referred to as a bullying law in Virginia. Governed by Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-60, the offense occurs when any person:

knowingly communicates, in a writing, including an electronically transmitted communication producing a visual or electronic message, a threat to kill or do bodily injury to a person, regarding that person or any member of his family, and the threat places such person in reasonable apprehension of death or bodily injury to himself or his family member.

Here, the prosecutor must prove that:

  1. You knew what you were doing and the reaction it could render.
  2. You threatened death or bodily injury in writing to a person or member of his family.
  3. The threat placed the person or his family member n reasonable apprehension of death or bodily injury.

But the offense doesn't end there. There are two additional and specific crimes under this statute that refer to school grounds or medical facilities.

Threats of Death or bodily Injury to Persons on School Property

Any person who communicates a threat, in a writing, including an electronically transmitted communication producing a visual or electronic message, to kill or do bodily harm, (i) on the grounds or premises of any elementary, middle or secondary school property, (ii) at any elementary, middle or secondary school-sponsored event or (iii) on a school bus to any person or persons, regardless of whether the person who is the object of the threat actually receives the threat, and the threat would place the person who is the object of the threat in reasonable apprehension of death or bodily harm

Threats of Death or Bodily Injury to Health Care Providers

Any person who orally makes a threat to kill or to do bodily injury to (i) any employee of any elementary, middle or secondary school, while on a school bus, on school property or at a school-sponsored activity or (ii) any health care provider as defined in § 8.01-581.1 who is engaged in the performance of his duties in a hospital as defined in § 18.2-57 or in an emergency room on the premises of any clinic or other facility rendering emergency medical care.

 In these two instances, the requisite mental state of knowing is absent. Plus, in the first of the two-above offenses, the object of the threat doesn't even have to know he or she is being threatened while in the second of the two-above offenses, the threat only needs to be oral and not in writing.

What are the penalties that can result in a conviction of this crime?

Most charges under this offense are felonies, but in less serious cases, it could be charged as a misdemeanor. How the offense is charged is dependent on which offense under the statute you are suspected of committing.

Threats of Death or Bodily Injury to a Person or Member of His Family

This crime is typically charged as a Class 6 felony unless you allegedly violated this "subsection with the intent to commit an act of terrorism as defined in § 18.2-46.4." If the latter is true, then the offense will be charged as a Class 5 felony.

According to Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-10(f), a Class 6 felony conviction is punishable by:

  • one to five years in prison; or
  • up to 12 months in jail; and/or
  • a fine of up to $2,500.

According to Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-10(e), a Class 5 felony conviction is punishable by:

  • one to ten years in prison; or
  • up to 12 months in jail; and/or
  • a fine of up to $2,500.

Threats of Death or Bodily Injury to Persons on School Property

A conviction of this charge is a Class 6 felony that carries the same penalties mentioned above.

Threats of Death or Bodily Injury to Health Care Providers

A conviction of this charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which – according to Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-11 – is punishable by:

  • up to 12 months in jail; and/or
  • a fine of up to $2,500.

Are there any defenses in Virginia to a charge of Threats of Death or Bodily Injury to a Person or Member of His Family?

Bullying charges in the nature of this statute are difficult to defend against primarily because there is usually a written threat and witnesses (who either saw the written threat or heard the threat). The important strategy is getting your side of the story heard. But also, each element of the offense must be proved by the State beyond a reasonable doubt. As your defense attorney, it is my job to create that doubt.

Contact Smart, Aggressive Criminal Defense Today

If you have been charged with threatening another person with death or bodily harm, contact Bryan J. Jones, LLC immediately. We will go over your case, outline your options, and begin immediately to identify and develop a strong defense. 

About the Author

Bryan Jones

What I do I help people who are charged with crimes. I also help people prove their innocence even after they've been convicted of a crime. I love what I do because my own experience has shown me the value of good legal advice. My law firm is founded on the principle that good legal advice shoul...

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