January 9, 2024 By Wallin & Klarich

What is a Criminal Threat? | California PC 422 

Have you ever heard of the term “criminal threat”? It may sound like a serious offense, and it is. In the state of California, criminal threats are taken seriously and can result in severe penalties if convicted.

In this article, we will discuss what constitutes a criminal threat in California, the possible penalties for committing one, and how a defense attorney can help if you ever find yourself facing criminal threat charges.

Choosing Wallin & Klarich to represent your case puts you in a better position to receive the best outcome for your case. We have over 40 years of experience in Southern California. Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL for your free consultation!

What is a Criminal Threat? 

A criminal threat, also known as “terrorist threats,” is defined under California Penal Code 422. This law states that it is illegal to make any verbal or written statement to another person that will result in serious harm or death to them or their immediate family member.

To be considered a criminal threat, the statement must be intended to be taken seriously and cause fear in the victim. It does not matter if the threat was never carried out; the mere act of making it is enough to constitute a crime.

One example of a criminal threat under California Penal Code 422 is when someone communicates a specific intent to cause death or great bodily injury to another person. This can be done through words, gestures, or even facial expressions.

The key word here is “specific.” The threat must be clear and direct, leaving no doubt that the person intends to harm the victim in some way. Simply saying “I’m going to hurt you” would not qualify as a criminal threat, as it lacks the required specificity.

Additionally, the threat must be made with the apparent ability to carry it out. This means that if someone threatens to harm another person but does not have the means or opportunity to do so, it may not be considered a criminal threat under California law.

It’s important to note that a criminal threat does not have to be made in person. It can also be conveyed through phone calls, emails, or even social media posts. As long as the intent and specificity are present, it can still be considered a criminal threat.

What Must the Prosecution Prove? 

In order for someone to be convicted of making a criminal threat, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant willfully threatened to cause death or serious injury to another person,
  • The defendant made the threat verbally or in writing,
  • The threat was meant to be taken seriously and caused fear in the victim,
  • The victim’s fear was reasonable under the circumstances, and
  • The threat caused the victim to change their behavior as a result.

If the prosecution is unable to prove any of these elements, the defendant cannot be convicted of making a criminal threat.

Potential Penalties for Criminal Threats? 

Criminal threats are considered “wobblers” in California, meaning they can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances. The penalties for a felony conviction include up to three years in state prison, while a misdemeanor conviction can result in up to one year in county jail.

In addition to possible jail time, a person convicted of making criminal threats may also face probation, fines, and mandatory counseling for anger management classes. The severity of the penalties will depend on factors such as the seriousness of the threat and the defendant’s criminal history.

Potential Defenses for Criminal Threats? 

If you have been charged with making a criminal threat, do not lose hope. There are several defenses that an experienced defense attorney can use to help fight the charges against you. Some possible defenses include:

  • Lack of intent – If there was no intention to cause fear in the victim or follow through on the threat, it may not be considered a criminal threat.
  • False accusation – In some cases, the alleged victim may have falsely accused the defendant of making a criminal threat for various reasons. A defense attorney can help expose these motives and clear their client’s name.
  • Insufficient evidence – If the prosecution cannot prove all elements of a criminal threat beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges may be dropped or reduced.

How a Defense Attorney Can Help 

Facing criminal threat charges in California can be a daunting and stressful experience. However, having a skilled defense attorney by your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

An experienced defense attorney will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged threat and build a strong defense strategy on your behalf. They can also negotiate with the prosecution to potentially have the charges reduced or dismissed.

Not only that, but a defense attorney can also guide you through the legal process and ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.

In conclusion, understanding criminal threats in California is crucial for anyone facing such charges. If you find yourself in this situation, do not hesitate to seek the help of a qualified defense attorney who can fight for your rights and work towards the best possible outcome for your case. Remember, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and a skilled defense attorney can help you prove just that.  So if you or someone you know has been charged with making a criminal threat in California, do not hesitate to reach out for legal assistance. Your future may depend on it.

At Wallin & Klarich, you will never be left wondering what will happen next with your case. Our attorneys will help you through each step of the process, and figure out the best strategy for your case, which will help you get the best possible outcome. Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are here to help you. We offer exceptional service, experience, and affordable payment options to help you manage the cost of hiring a defense attorney. Call our office today for a free consultation!

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you are facing criminal threat charges, you need an aggressive defense attorney to fight for your freedom. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of clients win their cases or get their charges reduced to a lesser degree. We know the most effective defenses to argue on your behalf, and we will do everything in our power to help you achieve the best possible result in your case. 

You may not be aware of all your options. Calling our office costs you nothing, but picking up the phone could be the difference between years in prison and years of freedom. Let our skilled attorneys examine your case to find the best way to avoid prison.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.

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