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State v. Edwards

October 18, 1996

THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, RESPONDENT,
v.
MANUEL PAUL EDWARDS, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Superior Court of Skamania County. Docket No: 94-1-00003-7. Date filed: 06/02/94. Judge signing: Hon. Ted Kolbaba.

Petition for Review Denied April 2, 1997,

Authored by John E. Turner. Concurring: David H. Armstrong. Carroll C. Bridgewater

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Turner

TURNER, J. -- A jury convicted Edwards of threatening to injure property in violation of RCW 9.61.160. On appeal he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, the trial court's instructions, and the constitutionality of the statute. We hold that there is sufficient evidence of the threat to injure property. We also conclude that the trial court properly instructed the jury on the elements of the offense. Finally, we uphold the constitutionality of RCW 9.61.160. Because the statute does not reach a real and substantial amount of protected speech, it is not facially invalid. Accordingly, we affirm Edwards's conviction.

FACTS

Edwards telephoned the Skamania County Sheriff's Office and spoke with the dispatcher. Edwards said that he was phoning from a pay phone located at the front of the Main Street convenience store in Stevenson, Washington. He was upset and angry with store employees for telephoning his relatives. Edwards told the dispatcher that if the employees harassed his family, he would burn the Main Street store down. He explained that this was not a threat but a fact. The dispatcher sent two deputies to contact Edwards. They arrested Edwards one block away from the store. At trial, Edwards testified that when he left the store, he muttered something about getting revenge on the store to a passerby. He said he was afraid that the passerby would misconstrue the statement and call the police, so he called the sheriff's office to tell them he was not going to harm anyone.

Edwards was charged with one count of threatening to injure property in violation of RCW 9.61.160. At the close of the State's case, Edwards moved to dismiss the charge for insufficient evidence. The trial court denied the motion. Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict of guilty. Edwards appeals the conviction.

ANALYSIS

A. Sufficiency of Evidence.

Edwards claims that the evidence introduced at trial was insufficient to support his conviction for threatening to injure property under RCW 9.61.160. *fn1 He claims that the evidence failed to prove: (1) that he made a threat within the meaning of RCW 9.61.160 and 9A.01.110(25); (2) that he made a "true threat;" and (3) that he acted with the requisite intent. We hold that sufficient evidence supports the conviction.

RCW 9.61.160 prohibits threats of bodily injury or damage to property:

It shall be unlawful for any person to threaten to bomb or otherwise injure any public or private school building, any place of worship or public assembly, any governmental property, or any other building, common carrier, or structure, or any place used for human occupancy; or to communicate or repeat any information concerning such a threatened bombing or injury, knowing such information to be false and with intent to alarm the person or persons to whom the information is communicated or repeated.

RCW 9.61.160. The statute criminalizes two different things, in two separate clauses. The first clause makes it unlawful to threaten to bomb or otherwise injure certain places or things. The second clause makes it unlawful to communicate or repeat information regarding a threatened bombing or injury, knowing that the information is false and intending to alarm the listener. The first clause does not require any specific intent; it merely requires proof of the threat. In contrast, the second clause requires (1) knowledge of the falsity of the information and (2) an intent to alarm the listener. We are not concerned with the second clause here as Edwards was charged and convicted of violating only the first of these clauses.

1. Threat

a. Future and Conditional ...


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