Supreme Judicial Court (August 9, 2007)

The communication element of G.L. c. 269, §14(b) may be proved by evidence that the defendant communicated the threat to any person (other than a co-conspirator or co-venturer); the communication need not be made to an intended target or potential victim.

The defendant was on trial in the Juvenile Court Department on several charges, including threatening to use deadly weapons under c. 269, §14(b). The Commonwealth alleged that the defendant, along with others, conveyed a plan to "shoot up" his high school. The defendant argued that a conviction under the statute required proof that he communicated the threat to a targeted individual, or intended victim, of the alleged plot. The judge was inclined to agree. The Commonwealth properly sought relief from a single justice of the SJC under c. 211, §3.

The SJC disagreed with the defendant's argument, noting the fact that the date of the statute's emergency enactment was 2002 (one year after September 11, 2001). "Read straightforwardly, the statute protects any 'place or location' from threats that deadly, dangerous, or destructive weapons will be present or used, regardless of an actual ability or intention to carry out the threat." The Commonwealth is not required to prove that the person to whom the threat is communicated be a potential target of the threatened crime; in fact, the statute is silent on potential victims.