Threats


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Threats

Spoken or written words tending to intimidate or menace others.

Statutes in a number of jurisdictions prohibit the use of threats and Unlawful Communications by any person. Some of the more common types of threats forbidden by law are those made with an intent to obtain a pecuniary advantage or to compel a person to act against his or her will. In all 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.

It is a federal offense to threaten to harm the president or to use the mail to transmit threatening communications. These laws must be balanced against First Amendment rights.

Unlawful communications include, among other things, the use of threats to prevent another from engaging in a lawful occupation and writing libelous letters or letters that tend to provoke a breach of the peace. The use of intimidation for purposes of collecting an unpaid debt has been held to constitute an unlawful communication but might be prosecuted as Extortion.

A mere threat that does not cause any harm is generally not actionable. When combined with apparently imminent bodily harm, however, a threat is an assault for which the offender might be subject to civil or criminal liability. In most jurisdictions, a plaintiff can recover damages for the intentional infliction of severe mental or emotional suffering caused by threats or unlawful communications.

In those jurisdictions that have statutes prohibiting unlawful communications, such as letters that tend to provoke a breach of the peace, a violation of the statute gives rise to a civil action for damages.

References in classic literature ?
That submissive and silent man, whom taunts, nor threats, nor stripes, nor cruelties, could disturb, roused a voice within him, such as of old his Master roused in the demoniac soul, saying, "What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?
and they got to talking about this prisoner's threats,
The saying conveyed a threat to be appreciated by every
He recapitulated what he would no doubt call his arguments,--they sounded more like threats,--and as he spoke I saw dragons fighting for their dams in the primeval ooze, and heard savage trumpetings of masculine monsters without a name.
So threatn'd hee, but SATAN to no threats Gave heed, but waxing more in rage repli'd.
He is admitted accordingly, not without a hint from the Recluse, that were he himself out of his priestly weeds, he would care little for his threats of using violence, and that he gives way to him not out of intimidation, but simply to avoid scandal.
But, suddenly, she understood; and the Opera rang with her indignant yells, her violent protests and threats.
But the Cadi paid no attention to his threats, and was quite satisfied that he had done what was right.
With these words she jumped into the water, and the Prince, who had taken her threats much to heart, took his departure, firmly resolved not to deserve them.
The cat, however, never minding these threats, snarled and held on; but at last the duke pulled it off and flung it out of the window.
To remain silent and dignified in his presence; from time to time to irritate him by affected disdain, by a contemptuous word; to provoke him to threats and violence which would produce a contrast with her own resignation--such was her plan.
But he, as I learned afterwards, was leaving nothing behind him, except a welter of debts and threats of legal proceedings.