We all have the right to free speech. However, terroristic threats do not fall under the scope of that right. In fact, they are considered federal crimes.
Take the case of Daniel Fisher of Minneapolis. Mr. Fisher sent an anonymous letter to an Islamic Center threatening to blow up their mosque with all of “you immigrants” in it. Mr. Fisher had become increasingly angry with Muslims after the events of September 11, 2001. He was attempting to stop the center from building a new mosque in his area. He was identified through fingerprints obtained from the letter and arrested.
The incident was investigated by the Minneapolis division of the FBI. He was identified through fingerprints obtained from the letter and arrested. He pled guilty to the charges. Mr. Fisher faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
His specific charge is obstruction of persons in the free exercise of religious beliefs by threat of physical force. The federal law specifically state
247. Damage to religious property; obstruction of persons in the free exercise of religious beliefs
(a) Whoever, in any of the circumstances referred to in subsection (b) of this section-
(1) intentionally defaces, damages, or destroys any religious real property, because of the religious character of that property, or attempts to do so; or
(2) intentionally obstructs, by force or threat of force, any person in the enjoyment of that person’s free exercise of religious beliefs, or attempts to do so;
While this man, and any individual for that matter, is permitted to express his thoughts and feelings to the world, what he cannot do is threaten to do harm to anyone in the course of that expression.
HATE CRIMES IN MINNESOTA
Data collected from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension shows that while hate crimes overall have experienced a drop, crimes against Muslims have increased. An increase in hate crimes against people described as “Arabs” was also noted.
Law enforcement officials believe the numbers are higher, but a lack of reporting keeps them from showing in the statistics.
Police officers are required to report any crime that is based on a bias. The bias can relate to sex, religion, disability, race, etc. (626.5531 Minnesota statute).
With the increased hostilities around the country with regard to police involved shootings, terroristic attacks and protests over the presidential election, hate crimes and terroristic threats are being taken more seriously than ever before.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED
If you were charged with a crime that was linked to a terroristic act or hate crime, you will require the services of a capable Minnesota criminal defense attorney.
In many cases, these types of charges are made at the federal level. If convicted of a federal crime, your very future is at stake. Not only could you face prison time and be ordered to pay large fines, your ability to provide for yourself after your release will be very difficult.
Employers are very reluctant to hire convicted felons and financially providing for yourself and your family will be a challenge.
Families can be torn apart when a loved one is convicted of a crime and is sentenced to jail time. Federal charges are serious matters and the stigma that comes with them can follow you for a lifetime.
It is imperative you take the matter seriously and obtain legal counsel to mount a defense against your criminal charges in Minnesota. Your attorney will see to it that your side of the story is heard and will thoroughly investigate the events and all parties involved in order to prepare your case for court.
Our attorneys provide criminal defenses for a variety of charges including:
- domestic violence
- assault and battery
- DWI charges
- drug related charges
- sexual charges
- white collar crime
Please contact us to consult with one of our attorneys and discuss your Minnesota criminal charges. We provide a vigorous and personalized defense for all of our clients
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.