What Are the Elements of Threat?


Quick Answer

Threat consists of acts or words that cause a reasonable person to fear bodily harm. It is not generally necessary to prove that the victim is actually frightened, according to the 'Lectric Law Library.

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Full Answer

Threat is a crime itself in some jurisdictions and is sometimes called intimidation, menacing or coercion. For example, Montana criminal code defines intimidation as a communication that threatens physical harm, confinement, restraint, or any other felony. The threat law there also criminalizes false reports of damaging disasters such as fires or bombs.

Threat is also sometimes an element of a crime, such as in the crime of assault. In the case of assault, the usual test is whether the act causes apprehension in the mind of a reasonable person. The status of the victim is taken into account. A threat made to a child might constitute assault, whereas the identical threat to an adult might not.

Most jurisdictions agree that the victim must be aware of the danger, notes JRank's law library. In proving crimes where a victim was threatened, such as rape or sexual assault, it need not be proven that the person actually intended to carry out the threat or had the ability to carry out the threat, according to Cornell University.

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