No intention to terrorize - Case Dismissed
Not all speech is criminal and all criminal law requires the act and intention to do a crime. The case People v DeBlasio, 2021 NY Slip Op 00376 [190 AD3d 595] (1st Dep't. March 3, 2021) and it illustrates this point - not all speech is criminal.
The Court holds that "The evidence of defendant's "intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population" (Penal Law § 490.20 ) was legally insufficient to support the conviction (see People v Danielson, 9 NY3d 342, 349 )." People v DeBlasio, 2021 NY Slip Op 00376 [190 AD3d 595] (1st Dep't. March 3, 2021) was a case that went to trail. The Defendant was found guilty. On appeal, the Court finds that this verdict was against the weight of the evidence.
The First Department Court notes in this New York Criminal Appeal that the language here, the criminal act, was insufficient and "To find that defendant's act amounted to a terroristic threat would trivialize the definition of terrorism by applying it "loosely in situations that do not match our collective understanding of what constitutes a terrorist act" (id. at 249; see also Penal Law § 490.00)." The Court notes that:
At the end of an altercation, defendant, a Muslim, threatened to shoot "you guys," referring to several Bangladeshi worshippers at defendant's mosque. Although there was evidence presented at trial that defendant bore animus toward Bangladeshi people, the threat mentioned no group or population and instead appears to have been based on a personal dispute defendant had with one or more of his fellow worshippers over money or a missing phone. Accordingly, this threat was not directed at a "civilian population" as that term was explained by the Court of Appeals in People v Morales (20 NY3d 240, 247 ).
People v DeBlasio, 2021 NY Slip Op 00376 [190 AD3d 595] (1st Dep't. March 3, 2021) highlights the importance of circumscribing certain speech, even distasteful speech is entitled to first amendment protection, as opposed to criminal speech.
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