Menacing (in some states known as brandishing) is a violent crime in most state jurisdictions of the United States. Although the wording and degrees of offense vary slightly from state to state, the criminal act of menacing generally consists of displaying a weapon to a person with the intention of threatening them with bodily harm from said weapon.

It is distinct from other similar weapons-related crimes of violence such as "aggravated assault" or "assault with a deadly weapon" in that the charge of menacing requires neither an actual deadly weapon be displayed (any object wielded threateningly can be used to menace in many states), nor any actual physical contact. The display also need not be accompanied by a verbal threat; if the display of the weapon would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily harm from the perpetrator, the threat is considered to be implicit.

Degrees of offense range from a misdemeanor for first time offenders, to low to mid level felonies for offenders with a prior menacing charge. There are not usually any other relevant aggravating circumstances in determining the degree of offense, as any actual physical contact between the perpetrator and the victim would garner a stronger charge of battery or assault instead of (rather than in addition to) the menacing charge.

The tangentially related crime of "Menacing By Stalking" was introduced as a new charge in many states following the popularization of laws specifically targeting stalking behavior, in which a perpetrator adopts a long-term pattern of actions designed to frighten and harass a victim while still adhering to the letter of existing harassment laws.


External links

Louisville Courier-Journal. Metro Crime Data Center: Menacing. <>

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