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A threat is an act of coercion wherein an act is proposed to elicit a negative response. It is a communicated intent to inflict harm or loss on another person. It can be a crime in many jurisdictions. Threat (intimidation) is widely seen in animals, particularly in a ritualized form, chiefly in order to avoid the unnecessary physical violence that can lead to physical damage or death of both conflicting parties.
Some of the more common types of threats forbidden by law are those made with an intent to obtain a pecuniary advantage or to compel a person to act against his or her will. In all states, it is an offense to threaten to (1) use a deadly weapon on another person; (2) injure another's person or property; or (3) injure another's reputation.
In Brazil, the crime of threatening someone, defined as a threat to cause unjust and grave harm, is punishable by a fine or three months to one year in prison, as described in the Brazilian Penal Code, article 147. Brazilian jurisprudence does not treat as a crime a threat that was proffered in a heated discussion.
The German Strafgesetzbuch § 241 punishes the crime of threat with a prison term for up to one year or a fine. Even if someone, against his better judgment, feigns to another person that the realization of a serious criminal offense directed against him or a person close to him is imminent, shall be similarly punished.
In the United States, federal law criminalizes certain true threats transmitted via the U.S. mail or in interstate commerce. It also criminalizes threatening the government officials of the United States. Some U.S. states criminalize cyberbullying.
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