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Q&A: Can you get arrested for saying you want to kill someone?

April 22, 2020

Depends on the jurisdiction and the circumstances.

In Kentucky, saying you want to kill someone could get you arrested for menacing, which is intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury, or terroristic threatening, which is threatening to commit any crime likely to result in death or serious physical injury to another person.

The menacing statute is available at https://www.lawserver.com/law/state/kentucky/ky-statutes/kentucky_statutes_508-050. The terroristic threatening statutes are at https://casetext.com/statute/kentucky-revised-statutes/title-50-kentucky-penal-code/chapter-508-assault-and-related-offenses/section-508075-terroristic-threatening-in-the-first-degree, https://casetext.com/statute/kentucky-revised-statutes/title-50-kentucky-penal-code/chapter-508-assault-and-related-offenses/section-508078-terroristic-threatening-in-the-second-degree, and https://casetext.com/statute/kentucky-revised-statutes/title-50-kentucky-penal-code/chapter-508-assault-and-related-offenses/section-508080-terroristic-threatening-in-the-third-degree.

While there’s case law suggesting the latter does not apply to “idle talk or jesting,” an intent to actually commit the threatened crime isn’t necessary, only the intent to terrorize the recipient(s) of the threat.

This is a blog post, not specific legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is intended or created.