What is a Threat?
A threat is a direct act of coercion wherein the action is proposed to elicit a negative or fearful response. Threats are communicated (verbal or written) attempts to inflict harm, fear, or some form of loss on another individual.
Threats are considered to be a crime in the majority of jurisdictions. However, a threat without a palpable, immediate, and direct threat of aggression is often held separately from a statement that would elicit fear or a violent action. The presence of an immediate and direct threat of aggression is often viewed as the equivalent to the physical act itself.
The United States defines and classifies threats based on how they are delivered and the likelihood that they will be acted upon. For instance, Federal law criminalizes specific true threats that are transmitted via the U.S. mail system or in interstate commerce. Additionally, any threat made to the governing authority or Government officials will be viewed as a criminal action.
Other than the aforementioned instances, the legal implications attached to a threat are up for statewide interpretation. Some states, for example, criminalize cyber-bullying, which is any action transmitted through a computer or cell phone that elicits a harmful action.
The punishments and classifications of a threat are dependent on a few distinct variables: 1) Was the threat made with an overt and aggressive action? 2) Was the threat followed up by a physical assault? 3) Was the threat made to a governing body? 4) Was the threat delivered with disrupting our nation’s homeland security? 5) Was the threat verbal or violent in nature?
Threats made concerning an individual’s life or intended to disrupt the sanctity of a society are viewed as felonious actions and may carry a prison sentence.