Unlawful Communications (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
Spoken or written words tending to intimidate, menace, or harm others.
The guarantee of FREEDOM OF SPEECH in the FIRST AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution is not absolute. Many state and federal criminal laws prohibit persons from making threats and other unlawful communications. In addition, a person who makes unlawful communications may be sued in a civil tort action for damages resulting from the threats or communications.
It is unlawful to threaten a person with the intent to obtain a pecuniary advantage or to compel the person to act against her will. This type of threat constitutes the crime of EXTORTION. For example, Colorado law states that any person "who communicates threats to another person with the intention thereby to obtain anything of value or any acquittance, advantage, or IMMUNITY is guilty of extortion" (C.S.S. § 28-3.1-543).
Nineteen states have laws against terrorizing or making terroristic threats. Terrorizing usually means threatening to commit a crime of violence or unlawfully causing the evacuation of a building or facility. Terroristic threat is generally defined as threatening to kill another with the intent of putting that person in fear of imminent death and under circumstances that would reasonably cause the victim to believe that the threat will be carried out.
Many states have also enacted...
(The entire section is 459 words.)
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