A Chicago-area woman is facing charges of emailing death threats to former President Donald Trump. She also mentioned his son Barron in the threat. The 41-year-old defendant is accused under federal law of transmitting threats to kill or injure, according to the U.S. attorney’s office here in Chicago.
According to federal authorities, the defendant sent the following message: “I will state that I will shoot Donald Trump, Sr. AND Barron Trump straight in the face at any opportunity I get!” She emailed this statement to the head of an educational institution in the Palm Beach, Florida, area.
Understanding the Law
18 U.S.C. § 875(c) makes it unlawful to email a threat to injure or kill another person. This is a federal statute, so charges tend to be filed by the federal government. The rule governs interstate communications and is linked with extortion crimes. However, the charges can be filed even when there is no explicit attempt to extort another individual.
The rule states:
Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
The maximum penalty for making such a threat is five years in federal prison.
Mental Health Defenses to Making Threats
Obviously, this was not a smart thing to do. So, one could justifiably wonder whether or not the defendant was in her right mind when she issued the threat. In many cases, such threats are made by individuals who have mental health diagnoses that they are sometimes untreated for. Their first access to mental health counseling and medication occurs after they have been sent to prison. In some cases, a defendant may be having a manic episode when they make the threat. While that isn’t necessarily enough to get the charges against them dropped, it may be enough to keep them out of prison. The law does take into account the mental health of the perpetrator when a crime is committed. However, it can be very difficult to win a case on an insanity plea. The defendant could argue that they were having an episode at the time they made the threat. This may be enough to secure a better plea agreement, one that does not require prison time. Instead, she may be forced into getting treatment for her medical condition as part of a plea bargain.
In this case, the only possible outcome of her emailed threat was being brought up on charges filed by the federal government. A person in their right mind would not necessarily issue such a threat. However, her defense team will have to argue that she was sick at the time she sent the message.
Talk to a Chicago, IL Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
David Freidberg represents the interests of those who are facing federal charges. Call our office today at (312) 560-7100 to schedule an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.