A 37-year-old Seattle man was charged last month with malicious harassment for threatening a mosque in north Seattle.
The man was arrested after a brief standoff at his apartment. He was taken to jail and held on $2 million bond.
Malicious harassment is Washington's hate crime law.
The man waived his Miranda rights when he was arrested and admitted to posting threats against the mosque to his Facebook page. Someone who saw the posts called police and reported the man who had a history of making threats in other states.
The man was investigated in 2015 for directing death threats to a Redmond, Wash., Muslim association.
A person is guilty of malicious harassment if he or she maliciously and intentionally commits one of the following acts because of his or her perception of the victim's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical or sensory handicap:
- Causes physical injury to the victim or another person;
- Causes physical damage to or destruction of the property of the victim or another person; or
- Threatens a specific person or group and places that person or group in reasonable fear of harm.
According to the Revised Code of Washington, words alone do not constitute malicious harassment unless the context or circumstances surrounding the words indicate the words are a threat. Threatening words do not constitute malicious harassment if it is apparent to the victim that the person does not have the ability to carry out the threat.
In any prosecution for malicious harassment, it is inferred that the defendant intended to threaten a victim or group if he burns a cross on the property of a victim he thinks is of African American heritage, or defaces with a swastika, the property of a victim he thinks is of Jewish heritage. It is not a defense that the accused was mistaken about the victim's heritage.
Under the statute, "threat" means to communicate, directly or indirectly, the intent to cause bodily injury to the person threatened or to any other person; or to cause physical damage to the property of a person threatened or that of any other person.
Malicious harassment is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, or by a fine of $10,000, or both. The victims can also sue the defendant.
No matter the crime or the circumstances, every defendant has a right to representation by a qualified attorney. If you have been arrested and face criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.