Public meetings these days, especially those dealing with taxes, can sometimes unleash the emotions of both citizens and officials. In this case, a female New Jersey resident was hit with a criminal charge after she attended a tax protest forum with tax officials at a Gloucester County public building. She is charged with making terroristic threats for allegedly saying that, if the door was unlocked, she would return with a gun. She denies making the statement.
The woman went to the meeting with her husband and 7-year-old daughter to dispute the doubling of her house value under a new appraisal. She said that the real estate market didn’t justify the increase, and she started reading from the Constitution. According to the woman, when she started with the Constitution, a male appraiser from the county’s private appraisal company got extremely upset and called on the Gloucester County tax assessor for assistance. The assessor told the woman to sit down and shut up.
When she asserted her right to continue, she was again told to sit down. At the same time, the male appraiser approached her menacingly and even touched her coat. The tax assessor then ordered her out of the forum. As she left, she called the appraiser a ‘pencil-pusher.’ The man became more distraught and threatened to call 911, with the implication that he would have her charged with a crime.
When the woman returned home, she was met by a squad of police cars and taken into custody. At the station, they handcuffed her to a chair, and she was charged with a crime. The police told her she had to hand over her guns or she would stay in custody for an indefinite time. She turned over two guns for ‘safe-keeping.’
Whether in New Jersey or elsewhere, the case calls up a basic issue of whether the criminal charge imposes improperly on the sacrosanct right of free speech. Considering that the meeting was dubbed a tax protest forum, officials should possibly have attended wearing a thicker veneer than what they apparently chose. With a properly focused criminal defense, the end result may possibly be favorable to the accused.
Source: TheBlaze.com, “NJ Mother Pressured to Turn Over Her Guns, Charged With ‘Terroristic Threats’ After Reading the Constitution at Tax Dispute Assembly,” Erica Ritz, Mar. 12, 2013