Intimidation (also called cowing) is intentional behavior that "would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities" to fear injury or harm. It is not necessary to prove that the behavior was so violent as to cause mean terror or that the victim was actually frightened.
Threat, criminal threatening (or threatening behavior) is the crime of intentionally or knowingly putting another person in fear of bodily injury. "Threat of harm generally involves a perception of injury...physical or mental damage...act or instance of injury, or a material and detriment or loss to a person." "A terroristic threat is a crime generally involving a threat to commit violence communicated with the intent to terrorize other."
"Intimidation" is the name of a criminal offense in several U.S. states.
Threatening behaviors may be conceptualized as a maladaptive outgrowth of normal competitive urge for interrelational dominance generally seen in animals. Alternatively, intimidation may result from the type of society in which individuals are socialized, as human beings are generally reluctant to engage in confrontation or threaten violence.
Like all behavioral traits, it exists in greater or lesser manifestation in each individual person over time, but may be a more significant "compensatory behavior" for some as opposed to others. Behavioral theorists often see threatening behaviours as a consequence of being threatened by others, including parents, authority figures, playmates and siblings. "Use of force is justified when a person reasonably believes that it is necessary for the defense of oneself or another against the immediate use of unlawful force."
Intimidation may be employed consciously or unconsciously, and a percentage of people who employ it consciously may do so as the result of selfishly rationalized notions of its appropriation, utility or self-empowerment. Intimidation related to prejudice and discrimination may include conduct "which annoys, threatens, intimidates, alarms, or puts a person in fear of their safety...because of a belief or perception regarding such person's race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct."
Intimidation may be manifested in such manner as physical contacts, glowering countenance, emotional manipulation, verbal abuse, making someone feel lower than you, purposeful embarrassment and/or actual physical assault. "Behavior may include, but is not limited to, epithets, derogatory comments or slurs and lewd propositions, assault, impeding or blocking movement, offensive touching or any physical interference with normal work or movement, and visual insults, such as derogatory posters or cartoons."
"Intimidation" is the name of a criminal offense in several U.S. states. The definitions of the crime of Intimidation differ by state.
750.147b Ethnic intimidation.
In California, making criminal threats is a wobbler and may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony under California Penal Code 422. A felony criminal threat is a strike under California's three strikes law.
Intimidation can also be a civil offense, in addition to a criminal offense, in some U.S. states. For example, in Oregon a violation of the state criminal statute for intimidation results in a civil violation. The plaintiff in the civil suit for intimidation may then secure remedies including an injunction or special and general damages.