I was thinking about a hypothetical legal question.

Could I, in the United States, legally say I want to kill someone? This is a civilian who is not well known and is not a government official.

I am asking this because I heard you can get arrested for saying you want to kill the POTUS, even without intent of doing it. Does this apply to a desire to murder, say, a coworker but not to actually carry it out?

I am a nonviolent person and I do not believe in murder war or anything like it.

  • There is a specific federal law dealing with threats to the President or their successors. As far as threatening an individual, you will need to identify a state you are interested in, there are 50 different laws dealing with that, Federal laws don't deal with those things.
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 13:26
  • I was thinking by state Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 13:59
  • Nobody is going to go through all 50 states and identify appropriate harassment or assault statutes... Not only that, but the medium of the threat can change things (be it in person, in writing, publicly, privately, etc).
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 14:10

1 Answer 1


Threats are illegal

Whether “I want to kill X” is a threat or not depends on context.

“I want to kill my ex” while bitching with mates down the pub - not a threat. Same thing said to the ex in the middle of a screaming match might be a threat. Breaking into their house and writing it in the blood of their cat on their bathroom mirror is definitely a threat.

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