Threatening the President or Other Federal Officials or Buildings
Threatening the President of the United States is considered a serious offense punishable by up to five years in prison along with severe fines. This type of crime is regarded as a felony under Chapter 41 of United States Law. Because of the extreme threat to our government, this type of offense is classified as a Class E felony under the law 18 U.S.C. § 871. Threats to other types of government officials are felonies too but fall into the Class C or Class D category.
Threat Code Basics
Along with the President, generally there are a few groups of people that are covered under the U.S. Threat law, they are:
- Presidentelect and Vice President-elect.
- Any government officer next in line after the President or Vice President.
- Any family member of both the President or Vice President.
- Any major candidate for President, Vice President or any of their family immediate members.
- Anyone who is currently protected by the Secret Service.
- Any government official, officer, employee or agent of the U.S. who is outside the United States.
Additionally, the threat must include the intention to kill, kidnap or inflict some bodily harm on the President for Chapter 41 to apply.
For an offense to be classified as an actual illegal threat to the president or other federal officials, it must be made “knowingly and willfully.”
Derogatory comments made in jest are protected by free speech and not considered a “credible threat.” Only those with obvious willful intent are considered an offense.
If you are found guilty of threatening the President, Vice President or other government official or building, you can expect punishment of fines up to $250,000 plus a five-year stint in prison.
If you are convicted of the crime of threatening the U.S. government, even after release from prison, you may be subject to restrictions such as no Internet or monitoring and supervision for a period.
Threats to other non-essential government officials carry a penalty of up to three years in federal prison.