Original Case Details
In late January of this year, a 72-year old man was taken into custody after he allegedly made threats against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. The man allegedly left a threatening message on Benson’s voicemail and also made threats over the phone to someone in Benson’s office. Police arrested the man at his home and a search warrant also led to seizing weapons from the man’s home. He was taken to Oakland County Jail and later criminally charged. The man arrested and charged is no stranger to the political arena. It has also been learned that the man lost races in the Michigan House of Representatives in 2014, 2012, and 2010. The man ran as a Republican in his first attempt for the House and later ran as a Democrat for the last two attempts he made.
His Charge And Sentence
The man was charged with malicious use of a telecommunications service due to these threats. The malicious use of a telecommunications service can be as simple as sending a text message. Under this charge it is illegal to call or text someone and threaten physical hard or damage to any person or property. Under this charge it is also illegal to deliberately report a false message that someone has been hurt or killed. This charge also outlaws sending vulgar messages or making repeated phone calls and hanging up. Malicious use of a telecommunications service is a misdemeanor charge that has a maximum of six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. It appears that the threats were made in relation to Benson’s political views and policies. The man charged with making threats against Secretary of State Benson ended up pleading no contest to the charge was and was sentenced to three days already served in jail, along with 12 months of probation. He was also ordered to pay $980 in fines and court costs. If he violates his probation in any way, then he is subject to being sentenced back up to the original maximum of six months in jail. The man was sentenced by Judge Joseph Fabrizio of 52-2 District Court in Clarkston.
What About Free Speech?
The First Amendment protects our ability to have free speech. This protection allows us to speak out against the government, exercise religion freely, and gives us the right to assemble. The First Amendment, however, does not protect against threating or violent speech. It also does not protect speech that is likely to incite a riot. The charge of malicious use of a telecommunications service is an example of the limitations that exist upon the First Amendment. Yes, you have the right to speak your mind, but you are not allowed to do it to the point at which you are invading another’s privacy or peace of mind. Free speech can be a defense to a charge such as a malicious use of a telecommunications service. It is not, however, a catch-all defense that can be used in every situation. It is important to understand that you also have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and if you are being questioned by the police, it is your right to remain silent. Don’t let a mistaken belief into the depth of the First Amendment lead to criminal charges.
Any Further Questions?
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.