What to do if someone threatens to kill you?

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What to do if someone threatens to kill you

The alarming experience of receiving a death threat can be both terrifying and confusing. Whether it’s through direct confrontation, a heated phone call, or a menacing social media message, the impact is profound. In this age of digital communication, the seriousness of such threats is often underestimated, but it’s crucial to understand their legal implications and the steps you need to take for your protection and peace of mind.

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Understanding a Death Threat

A death threat, legally defined, involves communication that expresses an intention to inflict serious harm or death. This can manifest in various forms – from a verbal altercation to threatening emails, and even intimidating posts on social media platforms​​. Recognizing these threats as more than mere words is the first step in taking appropriate action.

Immediate Actions to Take

Contact the Police

In the face of a death threat, your immediate response should be to contact law enforcement. Provide them with detailed information about the individual making the threat, including their name, address, phone number, and the specifics of the threat. If you’re in immediate danger, dial 911 and find a safe location​​.

Gather Evidence

Compile evidence such as screenshots of text messages, recordings of phone calls, and statements from witnesses. This evidence will be crucial in building a case against the perpetrator and ensuring your safety​​.

Once you’ve reported the incident to the police, they will take steps to investigate the threat. This could include interviewing witnesses, reviewing communication records, and potentially arresting the individual if they pose an immediate danger. Additionally, the police can assist in obtaining a restraining order, offering an added layer of legal protection against the individual making the threat​​.

Criminal Charges for Making Death Threats

Making a death threat is not a trivial matter; it can lead to severe legal consequences. Depending on the circumstances, the perpetrator can face misdemeanor or felony charges. The law takes into account several elements, including the intent, the means of communication, and the perceived ability of the threatener to carry out the threat​​​​.

Defending Against Criminal Threat Charges

If you are wrongfully accused of making a death threat, it’s imperative to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Avoid direct contact with the accuser and let your legal representative handle communications, as this could complicate the situation and inadvertently strengthen the case against you​​.

Penalties for Making Death Threats

The penalties for making death threats are severe, ranging from fines to imprisonment. The specific penalty often depends on the nature of the threat and whether it’s classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Such legal actions reflect the gravity of these threats and their impact on victims’ lives​​.


Facing a death threat is a situation no one should take lightly. It’s essential to act swiftly, gather evidence, and seek legal protection. By understanding the legal framework surrounding death threats, you can navigate this challenging situation with confidence and ensure your safety.


What constitutes a legal death threat?

A communication expressing an intention to cause serious harm or death, whether verbal, written, or electronic.

Can someone be jailed for making a death threat?

Yes, making a death threat can lead to criminal charges, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.

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