Should Florida’s Written Threat Statute Be Amended?

836.10 Written threats to kill or do bodily injury; punishment. Any person who writes or composes and also sends or procures the sending of any letter, inscribed communication, or electronic communication, whether such letter or communication be signed or anonymous, to any person, containing a threat to kill or to do bodily injury to the person to whom such letter or communication is sent, or a threat to kill or do bodily injury to any member of the family of the person to whom such letter or communication is sent commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Michelle Williams
Michelle Williams

This week community activist Michelle Williams commented on social media in reaction to the recent tragedies in our country, the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas police.   In response to her commentary Williams received a remark by a young white male who resides in Hernando County stating he hopes she is the next one to die by police.  This white male then proceeded to send a picture of his concealed weapons permit to her facebook email inbox.  Willliams called Hillsborough Sheiff’s office and spoke to Detective Kelly Smith who advised she was not generating a report because no crime had taken place.

Contrast the above statute with Florida’s Stalking statute and its “credible threat” definition.

784.048 Stalking; definitions; penalties.

(1) As used in this section, the term:

(c) “Credible threat” means a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of the two, including threats delivered by electronic communication or implied by a pattern of conduct, which places the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family members or individuals closely associated with the person, and which is made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause such harm. It is not necessary to prove that the person making the threat had the intent to actually carry out the threat. The present incarceration of the person making the threat is not a bar to prosecution under this section.
Should Florida Statute 836.10 be amended to include this broader definition of what constitutes a threat?  Does Williams have a reasonable fear for her safety when a stranger tells her he hopes she is the next one to die at the hands of law enforcement followed by a transmission of a picture of his concealed weapons permit?
Williams will be raising this issue with her lawmakers and presenting this question to current candidates running for Florida House and Senate seats on Saturday during a candidate forum (see below for information).

Florida You Judge!

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