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What should I do about a threat-letter?
September 27, 2008 7:33 PM   Subscribe

What should I do about a threatening letter, both personally and legally?

Yesterday my father was involved in an incident with my next-door neighbour and was attacked, causing severe bleeding injuries, including a wound that endangered his left eye. To avoid trouble he declined to press charges against the assailant, but due to their own actions (shouting at and pushing the police officers), some of the neighbours were arrested for a breach of the peace. When I took my father back home from the hospital, I found a crudely scrawled note on an envelope which was in essence a list of names, accompanied by a swear-word filled threat to the effect that these people were "coming for" me and my family. These people have threatened in person to cause trouble as a result of the incident, to the point of damaging my house, and I want to nip it in the bud before it goes any further. I live in the UK, so any suggestions as to what actions I should take?
posted by malusmoriendumest to Law & Government (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Um, your father's already been injured, why risk further injury or death? Do you not like your father or something? Turn the letter over to the authorities and convince your father to press charges.
posted by bizwank at 7:50 PM on September 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seconded. Call the cops and press charges. There's nothing you can do yourself and the cops are there to deal with situations like this.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:52 PM on September 27, 2008


I can't speak for the UK, but here in the US, what I would do is this: the police report (from pushing the officers) would be a matter of public record, so I would use that to identify and contact the officer involved and ask to have the letter added to yesterday's police report; that way there is a legal record of the threat, turning it into a piece of evidence in any future altercations with this neighbor. If I was extra worried I would hire an attorney (solicitor?) or just seek the easy life and move. However a lot of threats like this are nothing but letting off steam and I wouldn't worry much as they'd just cause the trouble instead of scrawl about it if they were dead serious. </internet lawyer>
posted by crapmatic at 7:52 PM on September 27, 2008


Dude. Turn it in to the police ASAP. They'll have plenty of advice on how to protect yourself, and you need to start a paper trail on these losers right away.
posted by GardenGal at 7:53 PM on September 27, 2008


Make photocopies of the threatening letter, then submit to the police. Make a deposition as soon as possible with a lawyer describing EVERYTHING (and keep a copy of that deposition), so if it comes to trial, you cannot be tripped up by faulty memory, or the police saying that . Ugh. Good luck. Get the cops invoved: that's waht they are there for.
posted by lalochezia at 10:06 PM on September 27, 2008


I'll reiterate the advice to make this as official as possible; also, since you're in the UK, look into the possibility of getting an ASBO.
posted by rodgerd at 10:37 PM on September 27, 2008


... and keep a diary of future incidents.
posted by mattoxic at 1:11 AM on September 28, 2008


I was in your situation once. My advice is to move house. ASAP.

Getting the police involved with my neighbour only served to antagonise him. He was already shall we say well known to the police. In fact, when we contacted the police right after the incident happened, they said that they couldn't arrest him until 5 days later.

ASBO's and the suchlike are meaningless. There are many ways to piss off the people you live next door to that don't include physical violence, and they've already shown they have no scruples. They aren't going to be put off by something like an ASBO.

Of course, pass the note on to the police, and keep a lot of copies. Just be prepared that something like this might happen again.
posted by Solomon at 2:29 AM on September 28, 2008


Just a personal anecdote about assault - my boyfriend and I were attacked in the street back in January - he came out of it with bleeding wounds to his face but our attackers were quickly caught - within ten minutes. They were already 'known' to the police. Of course, they were released on bail the next day.

To prosecute and get a conviction the police have to put evidence together. It's a really long process and the main attacker was only going to stand trial at Crown Court in October (he's just changed his plea to guilty so no court after all).

My point is, these people were walking the streets for 8 months before it even went to trial. I can't imagine living next door to them this whole time so I really feel for your father. You definitely should give the letter to the police - they'll want to dust it for fingerprints and it could be a crime in itself. It might give the police reason to get an injunction against these people or at least offer your father some sort of protection, especially if the individuals have a history of violence. Talk to the police now and see what they can do, voice your concerns, it's their job to protect you.

In the meantime, invest in some of that Mace stuff that sprays horrible dye all over your attacker. Make your father carry it so if the neighbours get violent again he can protect himself.
posted by cardamine at 5:03 AM on September 28, 2008


You definitely should give the letter to the police - they'll want to dust it for fingerprints and it could be a crime in itself.

I seriously doubt the police will invest the time to dust a threatening letter for prints in this case, since it's quite obvious where the letter came from, and the fact that there are other prints on the letter than that of the writer.

I am not in the UK and completely unfamiliar with the laws there, but in my state (Vermont) it is not a crime to send a letter like that.

I'm gonna echo the advice earlier. Give it to the police so they at least have it documented, and look into moving away from where you are now.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 6:07 AM on September 28, 2008


the police report (from pushing the officers) would be a matter of public record

This is not true if the case is currently open or under investigation.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 6:09 AM on September 28, 2008


Call the police. You cannot know if the person in is deadly serious and EVERY SIGN SAYS THEY ARE SERIOUS. Get the ASBO. Get the police involved. Call your own solicitor and see what other civil and administrative remedies are available to you.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:16 AM on September 28, 2008


I am not in the UK and completely unfamiliar with the laws there, but in my state (Vermont) it is not a crime to send a letter like that.
That's nice for you. It's a serious criminal offence in all three UK jurisdictions, however.
posted by genghis at 7:53 AM on September 28, 2008


That's nice for you. It's a serious criminal offence in all three UK jurisdictions, however.

Well, in that case, all the more reason to give it to the police.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 8:01 AM on September 28, 2008


I am not in the UK and completely unfamiliar with the laws there, but in my state (Vermont) it is not a crime to send a letter like that.

Are you sure about that? It sounds like assault to me. They are have attempted by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
posted by gjc at 10:11 AM on September 28, 2008


I seriously doubt the police will invest the time to dust a threatening letter for prints in this case, since it's quite obvious where the letter came from

It's not obvious in court unless you have proof. My experience with the police is that they like to get fingerprints off everything.
posted by cardamine at 10:45 AM on September 28, 2008


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