Threats to kill

1.3 million domestic abuse related incidents were reported to the police last year.

Get the advice you need to protect yourself, your family, your home, your job.


Threats to kill is an area of law that comes up often in domestic violence situations. Many things are said in domestic arguments and this offence covers the serious situation where one party threatens to kill the other. The threats can be calculated and premeditated or said in the heat of the moment.


The person making the threat does not need to have the actual intention to kill but he or she has to intend the recipient to fear the threat would be carried out. It would be relevant if the person making the threat is known to be violent and to have a grudge which may cause him or her to act in the manner threatened.  


This is a difficult offence to prove, suspects will often claim that they didn’t mean what they said and they didn’t intend the other person to believe the threat would be carried out. Therefore, it is often reserved for the more serious cases. The offence can be dealt with in either the Magistrates or the Crown Court, it carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.


If there is insufficient evidence to prove threats to kill the threat could still be covered by alternative charges like harassmentstalkingcontrolling or coercive behaviour or breach of protective order. Evidence could also support or defend an application for a Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO), Restraining Order or Non-Molestation Order.

Threats to kill is rarely the only live issue in a domestic incident, it often coincides with allegations of assault, criminal damageharassmentstalkingcontrolling or coercive behaviour, breach of protective order, social media offences and public order offences.

A mere allegation of threats to kill can be enough to result in arrest or a voluntary interview. For a suspect this can then lead to restrictive bail conditions, a charge and a court case.


For suspects, police investigations and Court hearings can have a dramatic impact on day to day living. Access to the family home and to children is often restricted and any caution or conviction can affect employment as it would remain on the police national computer and may be disclosed on a DBS check.

Good legal advice is essential at an early stage. 

Key points for suspects

It is not the intent to kill that has to be proven but the intent to make the recipient fear that the threat would be carried out.


Although this offence is rarely charged you should be wary of alternative charges, such harassment, controlling or coercive behaviour, public order, social media or communication offences, and that the allegations (even unproven) could be used against you to support an application for a Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO), Restraining Order or Non-Molestation Order in favour of the victim.


If you are accused of a threat to kill good legal advice is essential at an early stage, book an appointment or contact me

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