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What is menacing? It is a charge that applies to a wide range of circumstances, including alleged stalking. Because of this, misunderstandings on the part of the police or the alleged victim are often the cause of this criminal charge.

The Cleveland menacing defense attorneys at Patituce & Associates vigorously defend the rights of accused people throughout the state of Ohio. If you have been accused of the crime of menacing, contact our firm immediately to schedule a free and confidential case review. As these charges can easily be overblown, our goal is to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the entire criminal process and that you are treated fairly by the Ohio courts.

Call our Cleveland law firm today to see how our practiced lawyers can defend your freedom and seek the best possible outcome for your case.

What is Menacing? 

In Cleveland, you can be charged with menacing (O.R.C. 2903.22) even if you didn’t lay a finger on anyone or make a verbal threat against them. Prosecutors will work hard to try and prove that you led the alleged victim to believe you would harm them, a member of their family, or their property. If you’re convicted of menacing, you could face jail time and fines, in addition to damage to your reputation. 

Ohio Menacing Charges

Cleveland Menacing Defense Lawyers

It’s important to take even misdemeanor prosecutions seriously. Just because a crime is not a felony does not mean that it doesn’t come with serious repercussions. Fight back with us at your side!

There are several types of menacing charges that include:

  • Menacing (O.R.C. 2903.22) – Punishable by 30 days in jail and a $250 fine
  • Aggravated Menacing (O.R.C. 2903.21) – Can lead to longer jail sentences (up to 180 days)
  • Menacing by Stalking (O.R.C. 2903.211) – Punishable by 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine

If you have prior convictions, though, the prosecution may seek a fourth-degree felony charge and stricter penalties. Fourth-degree felony charges can lead to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Ohio’s Aggravated Menacing Law

In Ohio, it’s illegal for anyone to make another individual reasonably believe that they could cause them serious physical injury. This conduct is what’s known as aggravated menacing, and it’s a misdemeanor offense.

In the scenario given at the start of this blog, we provided a fictitious example of an argument that escalated to a threat against your neighbor. And although that’s one situation you could be charged with aggravated menacing, you could also be accused of this offense even if you didn’t threaten the person you were arguing with.

The law states that it is unlawful to make another believe that serious physical harm will be caused to:

  • Themselves;
  • Their unborn child;
  • Their immediate family member; or
  • Their property.

You could also violate this law by threatening, by words or conduct, the other person’s place of employment or an organization to which they belong.

Aggravated Menacing Jail Time and Penalties in Ohio

Threatening serious harm to another person, their family, or their property is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If you’re found guilty, you could be imprisoned for up to 180 days and/or fined up to $1,000.

However, under certain circumstances, aggravated menacing in Ohio can be elevated to a felony. It’s a fifth-degree felony if the person you threatened is an officer or employee of a public agency that provides children’s services or child placement and the threat was related to the performance of their official duties. In this case, the penalties you could face include imprisonment for up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

If you were previously convicted of a violent crime against an employee of a child services agency, and you commit another aggravated menacing offense, a fourth-degree felony charge will be levied against you. The conviction penalties include up to 18 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

What Is “Serious Physical Harm” in Ohio?

Ohio’s aggravated menacing law provides that an offense is committed when someone believes that they are in danger of serious physical harm. But what exactly is “serious physical harm?”

Under O.R.C. 2901.01, serious physical harm to a person includes the following:

  • Mental illness that would require the person to be hospitalized or receive psychiatric treatment
  • Injury that causes a substantial risk of death
  • An injury that results in permanent incapacity or temporary but substantial incapacity
  • An injury that causes either permanent disfigurement or temporary but serious disfigurement
  • An injury that results in substantial suffering or prolonged pain

Serious harm to property includes anything that would:

  • Substantially decrease the value of the property
  • Require a substantial amount of time to replace or repair
  • Reduces the use or enjoyment of the property

What Is Menacing By Stalking?

Whenever an accused person engages in behavior that makes another believe that the accused will harm the alleged victim physically or mentally, this is known as menacing by stalking. A more detailed description of menacing by stalking can be found in Ohio Revised Code section 2903.211.

First-degree misdemeanors and fourth-degree felonies can both be charged with this offense. If convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor, you can be fined up to $1,000.00, imprisoned for 180 days, or both. The penalty for a fourth-degree felony can range from $5,000.00 in fines to 18 months in prison.

How to Beat a Menacing Charge in Ohio

Facing a menacing charge in Ohio can be an unsettling experience with the potential to cause extreme mental distress as well as long-term ramifications. A conviction can result in fines, jail time, and a lasting criminal record that affects employment, housing, and reputation. However, with a strategic approach and the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, it may be possible to beat a menacing charge in Ohio by following these steps. 

Hire an Experienced Attorney

An attorney who practices criminal defense and has experience with menacing charges in Ohio is your best ally. They can analyze the evidence, identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, and develop a strategy tailored to your situation.

Gather Evidence

Your attorney will work with you to gather evidence that supports your defense. This might include witness statements, surveillance footage, or other documentation that contradicts the allegations or shows that you did not have the intent to menace.

Consider Legal Defenses

Various defenses can be effective against a menacing charge, such as:

  • Lack of Intent: If you can demonstrate that you had no intention of causing fear or harm, this can be a powerful defense.
  • Mistaken Identity: If you were incorrectly identified as the person responsible for the menacing behavior, your charges could be dismissed.
  • First Amendment Rights: In some cases, what might be perceived as menacing could be protected speech under the First Amendment.

Negotiate a Plea Deal if Appropriate

In some cases, your attorney may advise that the best course of action is to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution. This could involve pleading guilty to a lesser charge with reduced penalties or other concessions that are more favorable than the risks associated with going to trial.

Prepare for Trial

If your case goes to trial, preparation is key. Your attorney will work with you to develop a compelling case, coach you on testifying if necessary, and present the evidence in the most persuasive manner.

Seek Expungement if Applicable

If you are convicted, you may still have options to clear your record. Under Ohio law, you might be eligible for expungement, effectively sealing the conviction and minimizing its long-term impact.

Joesph C patituce
Joseph C. Patituce, Cleveland Defense Attorney

The Cleveland menacing defense lawyers at Patituce & Associates know how to push back against charges involving conduct others may have misconstrued. Our assault attorneys have spent more than 30 years in the legal field. As former prosecutors, we’ve spent time on both sides of the courtroom. Let us use this experience to fight for you. Reach out to a criminal defense lawyer.

Call (216) 208-4579 to set up your first consultation with a Cleveland menacing defense lawyer at Patituce & Associates, LLC! We are ready to see how we can protect your interests and freedom.

Patituce & Associates, LCC — Cleveland Office

600 Superior Avenue East,
Suite 1358
Cleveland, OH 44114