We’ve all heard the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That’s not exactly true in Tennessee. Sometimes, words can hurt you – legally. While verbal assault may sound like a misnomer, the state of Tennessee considers it a crime if words are used to threaten bodily harm or imply an act of violence against another person. You may find yourself in hot water even if you don’t follow through on the threat!
According to the Tennessee Code (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-101), a person commits assault who:
- intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
- intentionally or knowingly causes another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or
- intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another, and a reasonable person would regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative.
So, if you threaten someone to the point where they fear for their lives or bodily harm from you, then you can be charged with assault.
How Threats Can Be Used Against You
A threat could be used to prove your intentions to harm another person, thus compounding the severity of the crime. Following through on a threat can result in more severe consequences. In our technology-driven world, evidence of threatening intent has never been easier to obtain. In the past, threats, unless shouted in mixed company, were one person’s word against another’s. Now, whenever you say anything or do anything, you have to assume you are being recorded. Even if you threaten someone over the phone, you have to assume you are being recorded there as well.
Tennessee Codes § 39-13-601; § 39-13-604; and § 40-6-303 state that only one-party consent is required for an electronic recording. It further outlines the following:
“It is not unlawful for an individual who is a party to or has consent from a party of an in-person or electronic communication to record and or disclose the content of said communication unless the person is doing so for the purpose of committing a tortious or criminal act. An individual may also disclose the content of any electronic communication that is readily accessible to the general public.”
Get Help Fighting Assault Charges in Clarksville
While following through on a threat is undoubtedly worse than only threatening someone, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. The threat alone can get you into trouble if its target feels their life was in danger. If you are facing verbal assault charges, our attorneys at Patton and Pittman can help you understand your case. Call our offices now at (931) 361-4477 to schedule a consultation.