At some point in our lives, we have all probably threatened someone else to varying degrees—even if it is just threatening to ground your kids. California Penal Code § 422, however, makes certain types of threats a crime.
Not all threats are created equal. In order to be held criminally liable for making a threat against someone in California, the prosecution needs to prove several elements:
- You threatened to kill or cause great bodily injury to someone;
- You made the threat to them verbally, in writing, or electronically;
- You intended for them to interpret your statement as a threat;
- The threat was so clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific that it communicated to them a serious intention and ability to carry it out;
- The threat actually caused them to fear for their own safety (or the safety of their immediate family); and
- Their fear was reasonable under the circumstances.
As long as all of those elements are met, you could be convicted of criminal threats even if you never actually intended to follow through with it.
A criminal threats charge in California is a “wobbler,” meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a felony, it is also a strike offense. Strikes are subject to worse penalties, like serving out more of your sentence before you are eligible for release, and higher sentences if you pick up a new case later in life.
This is why it is particularly important to find a qualified, locally experienced, criminal defense firm as early in the process as possible—with a skilled and experienced attorney in your corner, you may have an opportunity to defend against the case and avoid charges or a conviction altogether.
If you are facing criminal threats charges in San Diego and would like to learn more about how best to regain control of your future, check out managing partner David P. Shapiro’s video here, or give us a call at (619) 295-3555 to set up a consultation today.
The contents of this article and blog are for meant for informational and marketing purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Viewing and/or use of the blog does not form an attorney-client relationship. No statements in this post are a guarantee, warranty, or prediction of a particular result in your case.