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What is a Threatening Offence and what Types are There?

According to articles 169, 170 and 171 of the penal code a criminal offence of threats consists of issuing any expression that announces the intention to harm another person, their loved ones or collective.


There are several types of threats, depending on the expressions that are used, they can be a crime, as well as their possible aggravating factors. And although it is often not done, they are reportable, so we want to explain everything about this topic.

When are threats considered a crime?

A threat is the expressed intention of a subject to harm or cause harm to another person or someone in their family. However, not all threats are criminal offences under the criminal code.


Imagine that someone says to you “When I see you I will kill you!” in this case the person receives the danger as real. And this threat refers to another crime, in this case death threats.


On the other hand, there are threats that do not depend on the will of the subject, for example, “May you be struck by lightning”, the same would happen if they say “I’m going to report you” as it is a warning, not a threat. In both cases it could not be considered a crime as they are actions that are not established in the penal code.

Types and penalties for threatening offences

There is no single offence of threats, there are different types of threats in the penal code between articles 169 and 171 depending on their seriousness:

Conditional threat linked to an evil that constitutes a crime (Art. 169.1).

When the subject threatens by imposing conditions or demanding amounts (for example, “If you don’t pay me what you owe me, I’ll break your car”). In this case, he/she will be punished as follows:


If the perpetrator of the threat fulfils his objective, a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years will be imposed. If not, between 6 months and 3 years imprisonment.

Unconditional threat linked to a crime (Art. 169.2)

A non-conditional threat is a criminal offence if it is linked to a wrong, e.g. “I will break your legs”, but without the imposition of conditions. Regardless of whether or not the threat is carried out, it carries a prison sentence of between 6 months and 2 years.

Threats with a terrorist aim (Art. 170)

These are threats directed at groups of people or groups (ethnic groups, disabled, religion, etc.), for example: “I will kill the first faggot who passes by”. The penalties are the same as above.


They also include threats that publicly call for violent actions to be carried out by terrorist organisations or groups. For example: “ETA will come and torture you”. In this case, prison sentences are also between 6 months and 3 years.

Conditional threat linked to an evil that does not constitute a crime (Art. 171.1)

This consists of threatening an evil that does not constitute a crime, for example: “Either you give me 500€ or I will report you”. However, it would not be an offence, for example, to ask a parent for child support: “Either you pay me what you owe me or I will report you”.


Such actions carry penalties of 3 months to one year or, failing that, a fine of 6 to 24 months. However, if the perpetrator succeeds, the penalty will always be higher.

Aggravated type: blackmail (art. 171.2)

Request for financial rewards in exchange for not disseminating or publishing facts related to the victim’s private life that affect his/her honour, privacy or image, or that of his/her family or close relatives. For example, “If you don’t give me €1,000, I will pass on a sex video of you via WhatsApp”.


In the event that the perpetrator of the threats fulfils his objective, prison sentences of 2 to 4 years are envisaged. If he fails to do so, he will be sentenced to 4 months to 2 years imprisonment.


Reporting of minor threats

  • A minor type of threat would be, for example, “I will go to the police and tell them that you stole a purse”. In this case, if the offence you could be charged with carries a penalty of less than 2 years imprisonment, it may not be punishable.
  • Minor threats to women or vulnerable people living with the perpetrator, e.g. “I won’t stop until you give me another chance”. In this case the prison sentence can be from 6 months to one year or, alternatively, community service for a period of between 1 and 6 months.
  • Minor threatening by carrying dangerous instruments, e.g. holding a pair of scissors in your hand while saying “you’d better not go out dressed like that”. This action carries a prison sentence of 3 months to 1 year or community service for a period of 1 to 6 months.

The consequences of the offence of threats

Threats can lead to very heavy penalties. In fact, unless it is a threat classified as a minor offence, action can be taken ex officio, i.e. without the need for the victim to report the offence.


However, the majority of threats that occur do not reach the courts. At Legal Boutique Ibiza we are clear that it is necessary to inform the authorities before the threat leads to a much more serious action such as aggression.


Therefore, if you have been a victim of threats and want to report it, our lawyers specialised in criminal law can help you. We guarantee to protect all your rights during the process.