What is a threat crime in Spain?

According to Article 169 of the Spanish Penal Code, threats are the expression or action that intends to endanger another person. To define threats that are considered a crime, the threat must refer to committing another crime. For instance, a person might threaten that they will follow you home and hurt you, this being a crime because injuring someone is in the Penal Code.

Some Types of the most usual Threat Crimes

  • Blackmail in which threat actions depend on compensation result in 1 to 5 years in prison if the threat action does occur. Punishment is between 6 months and 3 years if the threat action does not occur. (Article 169)

    Example: “I’m going to hurt you if you don’t pay me tomorrow.”

A man shields himself from arrows
  • Threats to marginalized groups such as ethnic, religious, or disabled groups carries a prison sentence between 6 months and 2 years (Article 170).
  • Blackmailing to publish facts related to private life has a penalty of 2 to 4 years (Article 171). Example: “I will post this video of you in your home if you don’t give me €10,000.”
  • Threatening your wife or former wife has a punishment of 6 months to 1 year in prison or community service from 31 to 180 days (Article 172). Example: “I will make your life miserable unless you come back to me.”
  • Threatening with weapons carries a sentence of 3 months to 1 year (Article 171).

More on Penalties

There are a range of penalties that depend on the severity of the threat. Serious penalties involve greater amounts of harm or threat. 

Minimum penalties are minor offenses and misdemeanors. These penalties include usually fines, instead of prison sentences.

Also a penalty it could be weapon use deprivation.

What to do if you are threatened

It is important to file a complaint on time and contact our lawyers if you have been a victim of threats. Crime is pursued through the Spanish legal system if the victim makes a claim. The sooner you file, the better. Our lawyers can help you feel at ease during a difficult time.

How does Spanish law deal with threat?

Definition and law

As we explain before Art. 169 Spanish Panel Code (SPC) defines threat as the action of an individual threatening another person to cause harm to them, their families or other related person. Harm in the sense of threatening includes crimes of homicide, injury, abortion against liberty, torture and actions against moral integrity, sexual freedom, privacy, honor, property and socio-economic order. Threat is classified a criminal offence as such when it can be shown that it was real and direct. Consequently, an individual is endangered to be subject to damage. There is no single criminal offence of threat but depending on the circumstances and severity.

Categories of seriousness and punishments

Punishment for threat is laid down in Arts. 169-171 SPC. Generally, according Art. 169(1) SPC imprisonment shall be imposed between one to five years in case the individual was threatened for an amount of money and the guilty person achieved their aim. Imprisonment shall be imposed for a term between six months and three years of the guilty person did not achieve the aim. According to Art. 169 (2) SPC the period of imprisonment shall be set between six months and two years in case the threat was conditional. More specific cases of threatening are named in Arts. 170 and 171 SPC. Art. 170 SOC names specifically serious cases of threat. For example, Art. 170 (1) SPC states that serious threatening of frightening individual inhabitants of a population, ethnic, cultural, religious or any other group shall suffer from an imprisonment term that is higher. Art. 170 (2) SPC also covers violent terrorist organizations or groups threatening individuals with the same degree of seriousness are to be punished by imprisonment between six months and two years. Art. 171 SPC then names threat forms of harm not constituting a criminal offence. Art. 171 (1) states that threats of evil which are not criminally punishable are to be sanctioned with imprisonment between 3 months and 2 years depending on the seriousness and circumstances of the case. Then Art. 171 (2) SPC focuses on threat of revealing personal or sensitive information concerning the private life of individuals that is not known by the public which may affect the individual reputation or interests, also called blackmail. It is stated that this kind of threat can be punished with imprisonment between 2 and 4 years provided that all money requested that been delivered by the victim.

What can an individual do against threat?

The procedure for complaining about threat entails several steps under Spanish law. Firstly, the victim has to lodge an official complaint in the form of a criminal record. After submitting the criminal record, the case is officially prosecuted by the Spanish authorities. In a next step, the complaint is then sent to the court which then classifies the offence recorded. Following, the trial takes place. Here, both parties are notified about the need to be represented by a lawyer or not. In trial both parties can bring any evidence they deem as necessary for the case. After the trial, the court can take up to 6 months to deliver a sentence based on all evidence and statements provided during the trial.


Evidence on the occurrence of threat is a prerequisite for convicting someone for this offence. There are three main categories of evidence that can be distinguished. A first category are conversations covering messages, conversations on social media, E-Mails and others. When alike evidence is presented in court it has to be made sure that individuals connected to that evidence or even being part of that conversation are present due to privacy and data protection matters. In case messages are sent anonymously, the prosecution service makes sure that the IP address is determined. A second category of evidence are witnesses. They must specify their statements in detail and no doubt can arise on the truth of their statements due to for example contradictions in their statements. Therefore, the judge also determines the independence of the witness from both parties in order to ensure the individual has no interest in serving one party. A third category of evidence includes medical reports. Pictures, videos and audios evidencing the threat. Medical reports evidence psychological and corporal harm resulting from the threat.

Commonalities and difference between threat and blackmail

Blackmail and threat have in common that both have a fraudulent nature and aim to make profit by seeking a benefit through the threat of harm or damage to the victim. The difference lays in the fact that threat has a subjective character meaning that it is more controversial as it requires a crime of the Penal Code to be triggered by the threat and blackmail does not require the Panel Code condition as the mere fact of blackmailing is a crime without the need for a criminal component to be included.


DISCLAIMER: This is not considered as legal advice and the post coculd not be updated. If you want the most updated information, please contact one of our lawyers.

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