Criminal Threats (Penal Code § 422)
A "Criminal Threat" is a verbal threat of immediate harm to a person that is intended to cause fear in that person and causes the person to reasonably feel threatened.
A Criminal Threat is a "wobbler" and can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a felony, it is classified as a "serious felony" and a conviction qualifies as a "strike" under California's Three Strikes Law.
If you or someone you care about is facing a criminal threat, the criminal defense attorneys at the Weinrieb Law Firm can help explain the charges and properly defend against them. We can be reached twenty–four hours a day, seven days a week at (818) 933–6555.
Elements Of Criminal Threats
The prosecution must prove the following facts to convict a defendant of Criminal Threats:
- Intentional Statement Of A Threat – Defendant intentionally made a statement threatening to kill or inflict great bodily injury on another person
- The Threat Was Oral Or Written – The stated threat was spoken or made in writing by hand or electronically
- The Threat Was Intended To Be Understood As A Threat – Defendant intended that the other person understand the statement as a threat
- Then Threat Was Clear And Capable Of Being Carried Out Immediately – The threat was so clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific that it showed a serious intention and the immediate prospect that it would be carried out
- The Threat Caused Fear – The threat caused sustained fear for the other person's safety or the safety of her or his immediate family
- The Victim's Fear Of The Threat Was Reasonable – The victim's fear was reasonable under the circumstances
Punishment For Criminal Threats
Misdemeanor Criminal Threats is punishable by up to 1 year in county jail.Felony Criminal Threats is punishable by up to 3 years in prison. It is also classified as a "serious felony" and qualifies as a strike under California's Three Strikes Law.
Defenses To Criminal Threats Charges
Potential defenses to a criminal threats charge will depend on the facts of the case, but may include:
- Lack of Intent – Criminal Threats is a specific intent crime and the Defendant did not intend his statement to be taken as a threat
- Lack of Clarity or Immediacy – Defendant's threatened conduct was not powerful, specific or immediate enough to qualify as a Criminal Threat
- Lack of Reasonable Fear by the Victim – The victim's alleged fear of defendant's conduct must be objectively reasonable. It is not a criminal threat if the defendant's statement could not reasonably have been understood to threaten life or great bodily injury
Contact UsIf you or someone you care about is facing criminal investigation or criminal charges of any type, please contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Weinrieb Law Firm. We can be reached twenty–four hours a day, seven days a week at (818) 933–6555, or through the confidential and secure email form on the firm's website at www.VWattorneys.com.