Riverside Teen Arrested for Threatening Violence
A 17-year-old student at Heritage High School in Riverside County was arrested recently after allegedly sending social media messages threatening to “shoot up a school” and “kids.” According to police, the high school senior had been allegedly harassing other students as well.
After a search of the teen’s residence, detectives found that he was in possession of a ghost gun and a pair of brass knuckles. A ghost gun is a self-made firearm created using individual components sold by companies that make almost finished weapons. Because this type of weapon is easy to buy and undetectable by authorities, there are strict legal requirements around the manufacture and sale of such firearms.
The police arrested the teen as he was returning home without incident and are now working to determine how the 17-year-old came to be in possession of a dangerous firearm. He was booked into custody at Riverside County Juvenile Hall on several charges of criminal threats, possession of brass knuckles, and possession of an unregistered firearm.
The high school has taken to Facebook to warn parents of the consequences of inappropriately using social media. In a statement, the school alerted the community that “all threats of violence are taken seriously” and that they would work with law enforcement to pursue any person of interest.
Can I Be Arrested for Making a Threat?
So should you be worried about arrest if you made a threat online? Depending on the nature of the threat, you may be facing criminal charges. Under California Penal Code Section 422, you must meet certain elements in order to be prosecuted for making a criminal threat. These elements are as follows:
- The defendant willfully threatened to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person
- The threat was made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device
- The defendant had the specific intent that the statement is to be taken as a threat, even if there was no intent of actually carrying it out
- The threat was so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the threatened person an immediate prospect of execution of the threat
- The threat thereby causes the victim reasonably to be in fear for his/her own safety or his/her immediate family’s safety
If these elements are met, then you may be at risk for facing penalties under criminal law.
Penalties for Making a Criminal Threat
Making criminal threats is classified as a “wobbler” offense, meaning that the charge can be either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the type of offense and your criminal history. For misdemeanor convictions, you may face:
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Up to 1 year in county jail
Felony convictions hold harsher penalties. If you are convicted of a felony, you may be punished by:
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Up to 3 years in state prison
Furthermore, there are penalty enhancements if you used a deadly or dangerous weapon in making your threat. Doing so could add an additional year to your state prison sentence. A felony criminal threat conviction is also a strike under California’s three strikes law. The three strikes law grants that if you are convicted of a second strike offense, you will face twice the normal sentence for the crime committed. If you are convicted of a third strike offense, you will be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years to life in state prison.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
Although an online threat may seem harmless, it could lead to serious consequences. If you are charged with making criminal threats, you need an experienced defense team to represent you. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients and successfully negotiated reductions or complete dismissals of their charges. We have the skills and resources to help you as well.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you.
Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.