Threats on Campus

Threats are not only against every colleges’ code of conduct, they are also illegal in every state.  Colleges take all threat very seriously since lack of action on their part could put innocent lives in danger.  Even if it seems obvious that a student would not follow through with a threat, the school will investigate quickly and harshly.  Public areas like colleges and universities can unfortunately be the targets of shootings, so a school cannot afford to ignore any possibility of harm on its grounds.

What Makes a Threat?

Any terrorizing or threatening verbalization by one person or group that is communicated to another individual or group is considered a threat.  Some people are not aware that threats are not a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.  Speech that causes other people to fear for their lives or safety will be met with college discipline and possibly criminal prosecution.  Criminal and terroristic threats must contain at least the following key elements:

  • It must be verbalized or communicated
    Obviously a threat spoken while an individual is completely alone cannot be prosecuted, but if another person hears it while passing, or the threat is directed toward another, it can be considered criminal.  Some threats are considered much more heavily by the courts than others, including threats made involving intimidation, threats against a college and direct threats against officers.  Threats made against any individual or group are illegal.
  • What is the intention of the accused?
    Words can be spoken without thinking.  It does not mean that a person has the actual ability or intent to carry out words they may have said in a fit of anger.  If those words instill fear into the other person, they are considered a threat.  Once that happens, it does not matter if the accused originally intended to create fear.  The law considers that part fulfilled.  So the accused person does not need to originally intend to carry out their threat, they merely have to make the other individual fear for their life or safety.

What are the Types of Threats?

Threats can come in many different forms and for many different purposes.  Some are more common than others.  These include:

  • Directly threatening an individual or group
    This threat is directly targeting someone in a way that is straightforward.  It is typically explicit in its intent.
    “I hunt down your car and I will slash your tires.”
  • Indirect threats
    The ambiguity of these threats may make them seem like simple speech, but indirect threats can also be a crime even if the target and intent are unclear.
    “They have it coming to them.”
  • Conditional threats
    People will use these threats to get someone to do what they want.  A student might encounter this in a relationship gone sour.  One party may be directly threatened with physical or mental retaliation if they do not do what the other party wants.
    “If you say one word about this, I will beat you up.”

How Can Threats Affect Me on Campus?

Threats are taken incredibly seriously by schools.  They will immediately call local authorities and the student will face criminal charges on top of college discipline.  The accused will have to attend court hearings, which will affect their classes and attendance.  Since threats are illegal everywhere, a student could also face jail time.  Schools will typically suspend or expel the accused, and these actions will come swiftly, leaving the student little or no time to prepare.

Manchester & Associates Defense

Contact Manchester & Associates today for help if you have been accused of making criminal threats.  Time and the law are not on your side.  An experienced attorney can help you step though the process and protect your rights.