Menacing or brandishing is a criminal offense in many U.S. states generally defined as displaying a weapon with the intent of placing another person in fear of imminent physical injury or death. Depending on state, degrees of offense range from a misdemeanor for first-time offenders, to low- to mid-level felonies for offenders with a prior menacing charge. Self-defense is often explicitly given as an exception.
The tangentially related crime of "Menacing By Stalking" was introduced as a new charge in some states following the popularization of laws specifically targeting stalking behavior, in which a perpetrator adopts a long-term pattern of actions designed to frighten and harass a victim while still adhering to the letter of existing harassment laws.
Laws by state
In Idaho the law on menacing reads as follows:
- TITLE 18 CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS CHAPTER 33 FIREARMS, EXPLOSIVES AND OTHER DEADLY WEAPONS 18-3303.
- Exhibition or use of deadly weapon. Every person who, not in necessary self-defense, in the presence of two (2) or more persons, draws or exhibits any deadly weapon in a rude, angry and threatening manner, or who, in any manner, unlawfully uses the same, in any fight or quarrel, is guilty of a misdemeanor. History: [18-3303, added 1972, ch. 336, sec. 1, p. 911.]
In Ohio, the laws on Menacing read as follows:
- 2903.22 Menacing.
- (A) No person shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the person or property of the other person, the other person's unborn, or a member of the other person's immediate family.
- 2903.21 Aggravated menacing.
- (A) No person shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause serious physical harm to the person or property of the other person, the other person's unborn, or a member of the other person's immediate family.
- 2903.211 Menacing by stalking.
- (A) (1) No person by engaging in a pattern of conduct shall knowingly cause another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to the other person.
- (2) No person, through the use of any electronic method of remotely transferring information, including, but not limited to, any computer, computer network, computer program, or computer system, shall post a message with purpose to urge or incite another to commit a violation of division (A)(1) of this section.
- (3) No person, with a sexual motivation, shall violate division (A)(1) or (2) of this section.
- (1) A person commits the crime of menacing if by word or conduct the person intentionally attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury.
- (2) Menacing is a Class A misdemeanor
- Gardner, Thomas J.; Anderson, Terry M. (2015). "11. Assault, Battery, and Other Crimes Against the Person". Criminal Law (12th ed.). Cengange Learning. p. 297. ISBN 978-1-285-45841-0. LCCN 2013947068 – via Google Books.
- "Section 18-3303 – Idaho State Legislature".
- "Lawriter - ORC - 2903.22 Menacing". codes.ohio.gov. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
- "Lawriter - ORC - 2903.21 Aggravated menacing". codes.ohio.gov. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
- "Lawriter - ORC". codes.ohio.gov. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
- "163.190 Menacing". oregonlaws.com. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
- US Legal, Inc. law dictionary. <http://definitions.uslegal.com/m/menacing/>.
- State of Colorado Penal Code Menacing Statute <http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/sess1998/sbills98/sb096.htm>
- State of New York Penal Code Menacing Statute <http://www.nycourts.gov/judges/cji/2-PenalLaw/120/120-15.pdf>
- Louisville Courier-Journal. Metro Crime Data Center: Menacing. <http://datacenter.courier-journal.com/community/crime/type/menacing/3>