It’s often said that “actions speak louder than words.” Sometimes, however, words can be enough to get you charged with a crime. Depending on the circumstances, threatening to commit a violent act can even constitute a felony criminal offense.
What Oklahoma Law Says About Threatening to Commit a Violent Act
Attempting, conspiring, or endeavoring to perform an act of violence involving serious bodily harm or death is covered in 21 OK Stat § 1378.
A. Any person who shall attempt, conspire or endeavor to perform an act of violence involving or intended to involve serious bodily harm or death of another person shall be guilty of a felony, punishable upon conviction thereof by imprisonment for a period of not more than ten (10) years.
B. Any person who shall threaten to perform an act of violence involving or intended to involve serious bodily harm or death of another person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable upon conviction thereof by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than six (6) months.
C. Any person who shall devise any plan, scheme or program of action to cause serious bodily harm or death of another person with intent to perform such malicious act of violence, whether alone or by conspiring with others, shall be guilty of a felony, punishable upon conviction thereof by imprisonment for a period of not more than ten (10) years.
Threatening to Commit a Violent Act Is Often an Add-on Charge for a Felony Domestic Violence or Sex Crimes Offense
Most often in my Tulsa legal practice, we see clients who are charged with threatening to commit a violent act as an add-on offense. Maybe they’re facing charges for domestic abuse of a pregnant woman, domestic assault and battery by strangulation, or some other form of felony domestic violence. Or perhaps they’re charged with second-degree rape, child sexual abuse, or another type of serious sex crimes charge.
It's important to understand that it’s not uncommon for one specific incident to result in multiple criminal charges. Prosecutors have the discretion to decide what charges to file against a defendant based on the evidence, the circumstances of the case, and the legal options available. They may choose to file more serious charges initially to create leverage in negotiations.
Attaching multiple charges to the same underlying offense is common because it effectively encourages plea bargains. Prosecutors may offer to reduce or dismiss certain charges in exchange for a defendant's guilty plea to a lesser offense or a plea to the original charges with a recommended sentence. This is often thought of as a way for them to expedite cases, reduce court backlog, and secure convictions without going through a full trial.
Threatening to Commit a Violent Act Can Be a Charge That Results in Bail Being Revoked
Alternatively, my practice sees this type of charge as an additional offense that occurs after a client has bonded out on their initial sex crimes or domestic violence charge. Facing these types of criminal charges is incredibly stressful. Clients who struggle to control their temper may threaten a violent act against the person who made the allegation.
Even when the “threat” is nothing more than an empty expression of frustration, this can potentially result in a new charge. Then, the client faces the prospect of their bond being revoked or significantly increased.
Don’t Take Chances When Your Future Is at Stake
When you’re facing criminal charges related to sex crimes or domestic violence, you can’t afford to take any chances. Your freedom—and your future—are at risk. Not only are you facing the possibility of time behind bars, you’re risking damage to your career, your family, and your reputation within the community. Instead of turning to a lawyer who only handles these types of charges occasionally, you want someone who knows what to expect and is up to the challenge of helping you fight to find the best way forward.
I founded Berlin Defense to represent residents of Tulsa and the surrounding areas who've been charged with felony domestic violence or sex crimes, with an emphasis on cases involving coercive control in intimate partner relationships. We defend our clients without judgment and use a proprietary defense system developed based on my experience as a former prosecutor.