grammar talk

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

grammatical interpretation of law

Is the following law saying that the COMMUNICATION has to occur in one of the three locations mentioned or that the HARM has to be planned for one of the locations? Note the placement of the commas in the first part of the law.

Va. Code 18.2-60 subsection A2

"Any person who communicates a threat, in a writing, including an electronically transmitted communication producing a visual or electronic message, to kill or do bodily harm, (i)on the grounds or premises of any elementary, middle or secondary school property, (ii) at any elementary, middle or secondary school-sponsored event or (iii) on a school bus to any person or persons, regardless of whether the person who is the object of the threat actually receives the threat, and the threat would pace the person who is the object of the threat in reasonable apprehension of death or bodily harm, is guilty of a Class 6 felony."


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Blogger tom said...

Dear Laura,

It's a very interesting question, but it also bothers me that you are trying to interpret legal language when in fact most of us native speakers would rather ask a lawyer than take a chance, in a situation where it would make a difference how it is interpreted.

My own reading of the sentence is that it's the communication that has to take place in one of these school places, not the harm- that is, if someone communicated it somewhere else, but said they would harm someone on school property, that wouldn't fall under this code.

Almost all threats are punishable, though. If you are worried about a real situation, so am I. If that is true, you should probably contact a lawyer, or contact someone who can tell you how to watch out for yourself. SIU has a lawyer you can ask for free- and, we have a counsellor who can help you find this lawyer. If you have trouble, contact Ms. Player across from the CESL office. She can help you.

10:59 PM  
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Blogger Rebecca said...

Dear Laura,
Upon reading the law, my initial thought was that it is the communication that needs to be occuring in said places within that law. Due to the lack of direct focus, it would be best to consult with an attorney prior to making any administrative decisions.

5:49 PM  
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