You Might Not Complete a Threat, but Making It Is a Crime

Take this scenario: Your neighbor parks their car on the street so it's blocking your driveway. This isn't the first time this has happened. Upset you won't be able to get your car out, you get into an argument with your neighbor. At some point, you tell them that if they block your driveway again, you'll shoot them. Making a threat such as this, even if you weren't intending to follow through, is a crime, and if your neighbor reports you to the police you could be criminally charged.

Ohio's Aggravated Menacing Law

In Ohio, it's illegal for anyone to make another individual reasonably believe that they could cause them serious physical injury. This conduct is what's known as aggravated menacing, and it's a misdemeanor offense.

In the scenario given at the start of this blog, we provided a fictitious example of an argument that escalated to a threat against your neighbor. And although that's one situation you could be charged with aggravated menacing, you could also be accused of this offense even if you didn't threaten the person you were arguing with.

The law states that it is unlawful to make another believe that serious physical harm will be caused to:

  • Themselves,
  • Their unborn child,
  • Their immediate family member, or
  • Their property

You could also violate this law by threatening, by words or conduct, the other person's place of employment or an organization to which they belong.

What Is 'Serious Physical Harm'?

Ohio's aggravated menacing law provides that an offense is committed when someone believes that they are in danger of serious physical harm. But what exactly is “serious physical harm?”

Under O.R.C. 2901.01, serious physical harm to a person includes the following:

  • Mental illness that would require the person to be hospitalized or receive psychiatric treatment
  • Injury that causes a substantial risk of death
  • Injury that results in permanent incapacity or temporary but substantial incapacity
  • Injury that causes either permanent disfigurement or temporary but serious disfigurement
  • Injury that results in substantial suffering or prolonged pain

Serious harm to property includes anything that would:

  • Substantially decrease the value of the property
  • Require a substantial amount of time to replace or repair
  • Reduces the use or enjoyment of the property

What Happens If I'm Convicted of Aggravated Menacing?

Threatening serious harm to another person, their family, or their property is a first-degree misdemeanor. If you're found guilty, you could be imprisoned for up to 180 days and/or fined up to $1,000.

However, under certain circumstances, the charge can be elevated to a felony. It's a fifth-degree felony if the person you threatened is an officer or employee of an agency that provides children services or child placement and the threat was related to the performance of their official duties. In this case, the penalties you could face include imprisonment for up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

If you were previously convicted of a violent crime against an employee of a child services agency, and you commit another aggravated menacing offense, a fourth-degree felony charge will be levied against you. The conviction penalties include up to 18 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

If you're facing charges for a crime in Cleveland, reach out to Patituce & Associates to get 70+ years of combined legal experience on your side. Call us at (440) 709-8088 or contact us online today.