A threat is a communication of intent to inflict harm or loss on another person. Intimidation is widely observed in animal behavior (particularly in a ritualized form) chiefly in order to avoid the unnecessary physical violence that can lead to physical damage or the death of both conflicting parties. A threat is considered an act of coercion.
Some of the more common types of threats forbidden by law are those made with an intent to obtain a monetary advantage or to compel a person to act against their will. In most US states, it is an offense to threaten to (1) use a deadly weapon on another person; (2) injure another's person or property; or (3) injure another's reputation.
In Brazil, the crime of threatening someone, defined as a threat to cause unjust and grave harm, is punishable by a fine or three months to one year in prison, as described in the Brazilian Penal Code, article 147. Brazilian [jurisprudence] does not treat as a crime a threat that was proffered in a heated discussion.
The German Strafgesetzbuch § 241 punishes the crime of threat with a prison term for up to one year or a fine. Even if someone, against his better judgment, feigns to another person that the realization of a serious criminal offense directed against him or a person close to him is imminent, shall be similarly punished.
In the United States, federal law criminalizes certain true threats transmitted via the U.S. mail or in interstate commerce. It also criminalizes threatening the government officials of the United States. Some U.S. states criminalize cyberbullying. Threats of bodily harm are considered assault.
State of Texas
A true threat is a threatening communication that can be prosecuted under the law. It is distinct from a threat that is made in jest. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that true threats are not protected under the U.S. Constitution based on three justifications: preventing fear, preventing the disruption that follows from that fear, and diminishing the likelihood that the threatened violence will occur.
- "threat". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
- "threat". Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
- Phelps and Lehman, Shirelle and Jeffrey (2005). West's Encyclopedia of American Law. Detroit: Gale Virtual Reference Library. p. 27.
- "Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB)". Retrieved April 19, 2014.
- 18 U.S.C. § 876
- Olivias v. State of Texas, 203 S.W. 3d 341 (Tex. Crim. App. 2006) Citing McGowan v. State of Texas, 664 S.W. 2d 355 at 357 (Tex. Crim. App. 1984). https://law.justia.com/cases/texas/court-of-criminal-appeals/2006/pd-1936-04-7.html
- 2 Wayne R. LaFave, Substantive Criminal Law §16.3(b) at 568 (2d ed. 2003).
- Toward an Improved True Threat Doctrine for Student Speakers; Stanner, Andrew P., vol. 81, N.Y.U. L. Rev., 2006, p. 385