Kansas City Criminal Defense Lawyers
What Is a Criminal Threat?

What Is a Criminal Threat?

In Kansas, a criminal threat involves someone threatening violence against another. The threat must be communicated in some way, such as verbally or in writing.

Additionally, Kansas Statute 21-5415 provides that the threat must cause fear in another person or the evacuation, lockdown, or disruption of services of any building. For instance, say a person is standing outside of a church and claims they have a bomb in their vehicle and will use it to blow up the building. The church may be evacuated, and the individual making the claim could be charged with a criminal threat.

In certain situations, a criminal threat can be elevated to an aggravated criminal threat, meaning that the crime is considered more serious and can result in harsher punishments. An offense becomes aggravated when a building is actually evacuated, locked down, or the normal activities are disrupted.

Other Acts the Law Prohibits

The law prohibiting criminal threats isn't only concerned with communicating threats of violence against others. It also prohibits a person from contaminating food, beverages, drugs, water, or other substances that may be ingested and cause harm to another. The statute also makes it unlawful to place an animal at risk of contracting an infectious disease.

How Long Is the Prison Term for a Criminal Threat?

Making a criminal threat is a severity level 9, person felony. The prison sentences for this level of offense include 11, 12, or 13 months. The exact length of the term depends on the specifics of circumstances.

An aggravated criminal threat is a severity level 5, person felony. If a person is charged with and convicted of the offense, they could be looking at 50, 52, or 55 years in prison. Again, the amount of time they could spend behind bars is dependent upon the facts of the case.

Is the Criminal Threat Law Unconstitutional?

In the U.S., all people are afforded the right to free speech. However, that right is not absolute, meaning there may be circumstances in which a person's verbal or non-verbal communication is not protected.

The question of whether or not Kansas's criminal threat law was unconstitutional was raised recently. In late 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the provision concerning making threats "recklessly" violated a person's First Amendment rights. The decision resulted in two convictions under this statute to be overturned.

What is not considered unconstitutional is making a threat with intent. This means that the person made their statement in order to make someone fear they were in danger of harm or physical injury.

Were You Charged with a Crime in Kansas City?

If you've been accused of making a criminal threat or any other type of crime, reach out to Stein Law, LLC as soon as possible. Our criminal defense lawyers have over 25 years of combined experience and will stand up for you throughout your case.

Get started with your defense by calling us at (913) 583-0465 or contacting us online today.


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