Is a Verbal Threat Considered a Criminal Offense?
There’s nothing more frightening than being verbally threatened by someone. Even if the person never acts out on his/her threats, you may feel intimidated and there’s no way to protect yourself from harm. But did you know that even the slightest verbal threat can be considered a crime?
According to New Jersey law, verbal harassment can fall under three different categories:
- Disorderly conduct – Let’s say you’re walking down the street and someone shouts something abusive at you, causing you to feel uncomfortable and offended. This is a case of disorderly conduct. According to New Jersey law, anyone who is offended by another’s “offensively course or abusive language” this is considered disorderly conduct. The penalty is a fine of $500 and up to 30 days in jail.
- Harassment – Like disorderly conduct, a verbal threat can be considered harassment, especially if it involves physical contact. The difference between harassment and disorderly conduct is that harassment involves physical contact of some way. The penalty is the same as disorderly conduct.
- Maintaining a Nuisance – This one you may not have heard before. It generally means one person or organization can cause a problem for a large section of the population. So let’s say you pass by a construction site every day. And every day, the workers at that site shout harmful things your way. Even after reporting the nuisance to the workers’ employer, the harassment continues. This means the business is liable for the employees’ behaviors.
Being verbally threatened is just as scary as physical violence. But know that you will be protected under the law.