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C.G.S. § 53a-62 – Threatening in the Second Degree

Overview

Scales of justice, gavel and handcuffsThe First Amendment to the United States Constitution affords everyone freedom of speech. However, one of the limitations on this fundamental right is the prohibition against making threats to harm others. Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-62 threatening in the second degree is the statutory citation for Connecticut's threatening law, which makes it illegal to make physical threats against others.

Threatening in the second-degree cases frequently arise in domestic violence cases when heated arguments take place, and someone makes a threat to commit a violent act against the other.

You don't have to be physically present or presently able to carry out the threatened act to be charged with this crime. Many of our clients have been arrested for threatening in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-62 for sending text messages, social media posts, emails, and making phone calls. One of the downsides to submitting a written threat is that it creates strong evidence of the crime.

Vague comments about unspecified actions do not amount to a violation of this law.

Elements of the Crime that Must be Established by the State's Attorney

To prove a violation of threatening in the second degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-62, the prosecutor must establish the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

Three situations:

  1. The accused by a physical threat places another in fear of imminent serious physical injury; OR
  2. The accused threatens to commit a crime of violence with the intent to terrorize another person; OR
  3. The accused threatens to commit a crime of violence in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror.
Examples

A man is fired from his job at McDonald's. He becomes distraught because he feels that his firing is unjustified. The man calls the manager and says that he will come to the store with a gun and kill everyone. The man could be convicted for threatening in the second degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-62 because he threatened to commit a crime of violence with the intent to terrorize his former manager.

A man is arguing with his wife. The man suspects that his wife is cheating on him, and she is not answering his phone calls. The man sends his wife a text message saying that he will come to her work and kill her if she does not answer his phone calls immediately. The man could be charged with threatening in the second degree in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-62. He threatened to commit a physical threat that intentionally placed his wife in fear of imminent serious physical harm. This crime would be treated as a domestic violence offense due to the relationship between the accused and the victim.

Related Offenses Defenses to Connecticut General Statutes C.G.S. § 53a-62 - Threatening in the Second Degree

The crime of threatening requires that the actor conveyed a threat that was immediate and not vague and ambiguous. For example, you could not be arrested for threatening to say to someone, "If you keep walking on my lawn one of these days, I'm going to beat your ass." "One of these days" is too remote and speculative to constitute a fear of "imminent serious physical injury" required by the statute. In this example, if the man said: "Get off my lawn now, or I am going to get my gun and blow your brains all over the street" that would constitute an immediate and specific threat that would be illegal under the statute. Vague threats of retaliation without any particular details similarly are not unlawful under the law as they lack the specificity to arouse the level of fear of a specific threat required under the statute.

Some offenders who have no prior criminal record may qualify for a diversionary program such as the accelerated rehabilitation program. Diversionary programs can lead to a dismissal of all of the charges against you and would result in you having no criminal record.

Penalties

The penalty for a violation of C.G.S. § 53a-62 - threatening in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. However, in situations where the accused makes commits the crime of threatening in the second degree on the grounds of a house of religious worship; religiously-affiliated community service center; pre-school or school; or daycare center during operational hours then pursuant to C.G.S. § 53a-62(3) the crime is a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 and probation.

Criminal Defense for Threatening in the Second Degree

If you have been arrested for threatening in the second degree and are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact our office for a free consultation to discuss your concerns either in office or by phone or video conference. Attorney Friedman can be reached 24/7 at (203) 357-5555, or you can contact us online for a prompt response.

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