Is making threats over the internet illegal?

05/26/2009 - Criminal - State: CT #16784

Full Question:

Is this threatening language reportable to the police and can the police act on this information? To which police department should it be reported? A daughter living in New York City posts the following on a popular social networking web site regarding her mother who resides in Florida. 'Activites: therapy; plotting to kill my mother. Interest: Sanity, getting away with murder, women's basketball, Mets, WNBA. Favorite Movies: Are there any movies in which a daughter gets away with killing her mother? Favorite Quotes: Your mother was truly crazy- Tara's therapist. About me: I'm totally f-ing normal. This person has 691online friends and is 43 years old and has well over 4 million dollars of personal wealth. This is my mother being threatened by her angry youngest daughter. I need to know if there are any legal options. The person making the threats can afford to spend unlimited funds on this, I cannot.

Answer:

Use of the internet to threaten “the person of another” constitutes a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875 ( interstate communication of threat to injure) If it is communicated interstate, federal jurisdiction is created.

Please see the statute at the following link:

http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/875.html

To constitute "a communication containing a threat" under Section 875(c), a communication must be such that a reasonable person (1) would take the statement as a serious expression of an intention to inflict bodily harm (the mens rea), and (2) would perceive such expression as being communicated to effect some change or achieve some goal through intimidation (the actus reus). A message is a "threat" if a reasonable recipient would tend to believe that the originator of the message was serious about his words and intended to effect the violence or other harm forewarned, regardless of the speaker's actual motive for issuing the communication.

Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person with the specific intent that the statement made verbally in writing or by means of an electronic communication device is to be taken as a threat even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out which on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made is so unequivocal unconditional immediate and specific as to convey to the person threatened a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family's safety.

It is not necessary for the victim to actually be placed in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or for the accused to have the capability or the intention to actually carry out the threat. The offense is completed if the accused, by his threat, sought as a desired reaction, to place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.



Please see the information at the following links:

http://definitions.uslegal.com/d/death-threat/
http://definitions.uslegal.com/t/threat-of-harm/
http://definitions.uslegal.com/t/terroristic-threat/
http://definitions.uslegal.com/t/telephone-threats-and-abuse/

Please see the forms at the following links:

05/26/2009 - Category: Criminal - State: CT #16784

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