We all know how easy it is to say things we don't mean in the heat of an argument. Most of the times those are empty words that later result in regret, but nothing more. However, there are times when the words can be considered a credible threat of violence. These can land a person in hot water in Michigan.
Michigan law sets out a definitive description of a credible threat, including a threat to kill or threat to physically harm another person. It also describes the context in which these statements would be made to be considered credible from a criminal perspective.
Michigan takes all aspects of a situation into account when determining punishment for a threat of violence. Individuals may be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony, and face state prison time, county jail sentences and/or fines and probation. For example, an individual who is threatened by a spouse whom they have already had to obtain a protection from abuse order against may be considered much higher risk than a young man out drinking with his buddies who threatened to beat up his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. The situation in which a threat occurred will almost always be the biggest determining factor in how a defendant is charged. However, one should always refrain from making violent threats regardless of a situation.
There are other wide-reaching consequences of actions such as these. Before threatening anyone, consider the effects it would have on other areas of your life if you were to be charged with making a credible threat. Would you lose your job? How would it affect your reputation in the community? Would it affect your family's safety?
Should you find yourself the subject of a credible threat charge, it may be a good idea to contact an attorney as soon as possible and to say as little as possible until your attorney is present. Criminal defense attorneys can work with their clients to create a defense in which the motivations for the actions in question are better understood. This could make all the difference in a criminal sentence.