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A death threat is a threat, often made anonymously, by one person or a group of people to kill another person or group of people. These threats are often designed to intimidate victims in order to manipulate their behavior, and thus a death threat can be a form of coercion. For example, a death threat could be used to dissuade a public figure from pursuing a criminal investigation or an advocacy campaign.

In most jurisdictions, death threats are a serious type of criminal offense. Death threats are often covered by coercion statutes. For instance, the coercion statute in Alaska says:

A person commits the crime of coercion if the person compels another to engage in conduct from which there is a legal right to abstain or abstain from conduct in which there is a legal right to engage, by means of instilling in the person who is compelled a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the person who makes the demand or another may inflict physical injury on anyone....[1]

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MethodsEdit

A death threat can be communicated via a wide range of media, among these letters, newspaper publications, telephone calls, internet blogs,[2] and e-mail. If the threat is made against a political figure, it can also be considered treason. If a threat is against a non-living location that frequently contains living individuals (e.g. a building), it could be a terrorist threat. Sometimes, death threats are part of a wider campaign of abuse targeting a person or a group of people (see terrorism, mass murder).

Against a head of stateEdit

In some monarchies and republics, both democratic and authoritarian, threatening to kill the head of state and/or head of government (such as the sovereign, president, or prime minister), is considered a crime, for which punishments vary. The United States law provides for up to five years in prison for threatening any type of government official.[3] In the United Kingdom, under the Treason Felony Act 1848, it is illegal to attempt to kill or deprive the monarch of his/her throne; this offense was originally punished with penal transportation, and then was changed to the death penalty, and currently the penalty is life imprisonment.

Osman warning, letter or noticeEdit

Named after a high-profile case, Osman v United Kingdom, these are warnings of death threat or high risk of murder that are issued by British police or legal authorities to the prospective victim.[4] They are used when there is intelligence of the threat, but there is not enough evidence to justify the police arresting the potential murderer.[5]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Alaska Statute 11.41.530(a)(1)
  2. ^ Blog death threats spark debate BBC News retrieved September 30, 2007
  3. ^ "18 U.S. Code § 871 - Threats against President and successors to the Presidency | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute". www.law.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
  4. ^ "Dad's death threat warning". The Scottish Sun. 2009-01-27. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
  5. ^ Published on Friday 13 June 2008 17:49 (2008-06-13). "Beds is one of nation's 'death-threat capitals' - News". Bedford Today. Retrieved 2012-04-29.

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