Under North Carolina law, the crime of communicating threats occurs when one person threatens to physically injure another person or that person's child, sibling, spouse or property. In order to sustain a conviction for communicating threats, the threat must be communicated to the victim. Additionally, the person threatened must reasonably believe the threat will be carried out. The punishment for communicating threats in North Carolina varies according to the criminal history of the defendant.
Classification Under the Sentencing Guidelines
Under North Carolina law, the crime of communicating threats is a Class 1 misdemeanor. For misdemeanor convictions, the North Carolina Sentencing Guidelines classify criminal defendants into three levels based on prior criminal history. A Level I defendant has zero prior misdemeanor convictions. A Level II defendant has one to four prior misdemeanor convictions. A Level III defendant has five or more prior misdemeanor convictions.
Types of Sentences
Under the North Carolina sentencing guidelines, the punishment for a misdemeanor conviction may be either active, intermediate or community. An active sentence requires a defendant to spend the entire sentence in the custody of the Department of Corrections. An intermediate sentence requires a sentence of supervised probation plus another condition, such as house arrest, a short period of imprisonment, or electronic monitoring. A community sentence is a sentence that does not contain any term of imprisonment and typically involves either payment of fines or a period of unsupervised probation.
Sentences for Communicating Threats
For a Level I offender, the punishment for communicating threats in North Carolina is a community punishment of between 1 and 45 days, the number of days to be determined by the sentencing judge. For a Level II offender, the punishment is a sentence of between 1 and 45 days, which may be either an active, intermediate or community sentence. For a Level III offender, the punishment is a sentence of between 1 and 120 days, which may be either an active, intermediate or community sentence.
In addition to possible jail time, a person convicted of communicating threats is also subject to the imposition of court costs and fines. As of August 2013, a person who pleads guilty or is convicted of communicating threats in District Court must pay $180.00 in court costs. If a person pleads guilty or is convicted of communicating threats in Superior Court, court costs are $205.00, as of August 2013.