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Anyone have any input on criminal complaints made against people who send threats of bodily harm via e-mail? What steps are taken in this situation? What if the writer is from out of MA? Anybody from any MA depts. have any related stories that they might share on how seriously these complaints are taken? Any case law on this?
 

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Dunngeon,

Under federal law there is no protection for "threats" by email. Email is not considered "authorized depository for mail matter". The law itself is for regular mail under U.S.C. 18 Section 876. The only States that have specific legislation for this crime now are: California, Michigan, North Carolina and Connecticut.

An example is California's Penal Code 442 which states:

"Threat must be immediate as to convey a prospect of execution of the threat."

AND

"Cause the victim to reasonably be in "sustained fear" for his/her safety or immediate family's safety."

For added information, your scenario could also be different if the email was received at work. If it did, this could fall under Intellectual Property Crime. Basically an illegal intrusion on your employers IT network. In which case, notify them and let them pursue it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Burner, for the info.

So basically, with the exception maybe of a 209A, anybody can send a threatening e-mail and nothing can be done about it unless you're in the above states?
 

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The new stalking laws might apply. Whatcha think?
 

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I believe, as MPD said, that the stalking laws (MGL CH265 S43) would apply, but I have no experience to back it up.

Chapter 265: Section 43. Stalking; punishment.

(a) Whoever (1) willfully and maliciously engages in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and (2) makes a threat with the intent to place the person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury, shall be guilty of the crime of stalking and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than two and one-half years or both. Such conduct, acts or threats described in this paragraph shall include, but not be limited to, conduct, acts or threats conducted by mail or by use of a telephonic or telecommunication device including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications and facsimile communications.
 

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Threats to commit a crime is a threat to commit a crime, no matter how it was transmitted. Criminal harassment is an option as well as stalking. For both you need 3 seperate acts. Stalking involves making threats or threatenting behavior, and criminal harassment is simply harassing behavior.

Stalking: http://www.state.ma.us/legis/laws/mgl/277-62b.htm

Stalking Jurisdiction: http://www.state.ma.us/legis/laws/mgl/277-62b.htm

Crimnal Harassment: http://www.state.ma.us/legis/laws/mgl/265-43a.htm

Depending on the threats, you could get Threat with intent to extort:
http://www.state.ma.us/legis/laws/mgl/265-25.htm

Good Luck Stay Safe
 

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My dept. has followed up on similar incidents, not me personally, but check with MSP computer crimes or your regional team, like Nemlec's computer crimes. Those groups have lots of info and experience with such investigations.

Good Luck & Stay Safe
 
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