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California Penal Code § (Section) 422 – Criminal Threats

California Penal Code § (Section) 422 – Criminal Threats

California Penal Code (CPC) §422Criminal Threats – California's Criminal Threats law (a crime formerly known as ‘Terrorist Threats') applies whenever a person “threatens to commit a crime” that would “result in death or great bodily injury… with the specific intent that the statement” be taken as a threat to another person, resulting in the target of the threat feeling “sustained fear.” The law can be violated by threatening a member of a person's family as well as threatening a particular person.[1]

CPC §422 may be punished as a Misdemeanor or a Felony. If you're convicted of Misdemeanor Criminal Threats, you'll face up to a year in a county jail or state prison and a fine of up to $1,000. If you're convicted of the Felony form, you can be sentenced to three years in prison and be fined as much as $10,000. California's “Three Strikes” law also applies to §422, meaning that a “third strike” conviction involving Criminal Threats may produce a sentence of twenty-five years in a state prison.

What Does California Penal Code §422 (Criminal Threats) Prohibit?

In sum, to be guilty of Criminal Threats under California Penal Code §422, you must:

  • Threaten someone with a crime that would result in death or great bodily injury; AND,
  • Produce a statement that would be, as a whole, taken as a threat; AND,
  • Write or verbally communicate the threat; AND,
  • Make the threat in a clear and immediate way; AND,
  • Create a reasonable fear that you'll hurt the other person or that person's family.

Defining “Criminal Threats” Under California Penal Code §422

To convict you under §422, the prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Willfully: You intended on doing whatever was necessary to break the law[2]; AND,
  • Threatened To Kill/Cause Great Bodily Injury[3]: You made a threat to kill or to cause another person to be severely injured[4] (or you directed another person to make the threat[5]); AND,
  • Communicated In Writing, Verbally, or Electronically[6]: You used words written on paper or presented via a computer, or you used spoken words, to make the threat; AND,
  • Intent To Threaten: You intended that whoever received your message believed you were threatening him or her[7]; AND,
  • It Appeared You'd Act On The Threat: The threat “on its face and under the circumstances” was “so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific” that it seemed you'd act on it[8]; AND,
  • Sustained/Reasonable Fear: The threat created an actual, sustained,[9] and reasonable fear that you'd hurt a person or a member of the threatened person's immediate family.[10]

Example: Defendant Deandra gets into a public fistfight with Victim Veronica. A witness calls the police. Two officers arrive and separate them in order to interrogate them. Just before Veronica is taken aside, Deandra looks at her, pretends that her hand is a pistol and “shoots” at Veronica.[11] The officers see this and arrest Deandra for violating CPC §422. Should Deandra be convicted?

Conclusion: Deandra, we can assume, intended on communicating with Veronica when she pretended that her hand was a gun. It could also be said that the “gun” was a form of threat to kill Veronica, one motivated by Deandra's desire to keep Veronica quiet about the fight. But the threat probably wasn't “immediate” enough for Veronica to believe Deandra would've acted on it, since Deandra just used a hand to pretend she had a pistol. Also, Deandra's threat wasn't made using words or sounds of any kind, which is required under the law. Deandra, therefore, shouldn't be convicted of violating CPC §422.

Penalties Under California Penal Code §422

CPC §422 may be punished as a Misdemeanor or a Felony. This makes it a “wobbler” under state law.[12]

If you're convicted of the Misdemeanor form of Criminal Threats, you can serve up to one (1) year in county jail or state prison and be fined up to $1,000 (one-thousand dollars).[13] If you're convicted of the Felony form, you can serve as many as three (3) years[14] and be made to pay a fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars).[15] If you use a gun while committing the Felony form of Criminal Threats, you can be sentenced to an additional year, making the maximum sentence four (4) years for a first-time offense.[16]

The Felony form of §422 is also covered by California's “Three Strikes” law.[17] This means that a “third strike” conviction involving Criminal Threats can produce a state prison sentence of twenty-five years. [18]

Defenses To California Penal Code §422 – Criminal Threats

You Didn't Make An “Immediate” Threat

Example:  Defendant Dacey lives next door to Victim Varek, someone he knew in high school. He decides to play a prank on his neighbor. He posts a threat on Varek's social media site. In the threat – which he intends on being taken seriously – Dacey says that he found “a Dark Web hit man” who's been paid to take Varek's life “someday.” Varek, remembering Dacey as a troublemaker who liked to get into fights, is terrified the whole day he reads the threat. He decides to report Dacey for violating CPC §422. Should Dacey be convicted of the crime?      

Conclusion: Dacey made a willful threat against Varek's life by posting on Varek's social media site that he'd found a man who'd take money to kill Varek. Dacey also intended on Varek believing that he'd been threatened, even if Dacey intended it as a sort of joke. Varek's fear was actual and sustained – that is, Dacey really did scare Varek, who remembered Dacey as a violent person, and Varek's fear lasted for a whole day. However, even if Varek's fear is also reasonable, Dacey only said he'd have the killer act “someday,” which is far from making an “immediate” threat. Therefore - although the other elements of the crime are present - Dacey should be acquitted of violating §422.     

Your Threat Was Too Vague

Example: A high school student, Defendant Dane, loses his school parking lot privileges because a campus Security Guard, Victim Verrill, witnesses him driving wildly in the lot. Furious, Dane goes to a silkscreen class and makes a T-shirt that shows him shooting Verrill in the back.[19] Verrill, who later sees the shirt, is deeply frightened but must wait until the end of the school day to report Dane, which he does, resulting in Dane's arrest for violating CPC §422. Should Dane be convicted of the offense?        

Conclusion: While Dane intended on creating the image that placed Verill in fear, and made Verrill fear for an entire school day, images are not considered sufficiently definite to constitute threats under §422; in fact, images aren't even considered a form of threat, under the statute. Therefore, even if every other element of the offense is present, the fact that the supposed threat was made via a silkscreen image means Dane shouldn't be convicted of violating CPC §422. A silkscreen image is too vague to constitute a threat even for those depicted in the image.

You Didn't Really Scare Anyone

Example: One Halloween night, a homeowner, Defendant D'Arcy, decides to create a haunted house for the Trick-or-Treaters in her neighborhood. She puts up decorations and finishes her project by mounting a “silent radio” on her garage. The “radio” repeats a message reading, “Neighbors! Enter This House And D'Arcy Will Attack You!” While no one complains, a police officer drives past, sees the sign and arrests D'Arcy for making Criminal Threats against her neighbors. Should she be convicted of violating §422?

Conclusion: The most important fact is that no one was actually scared by the “silent radio” message; thus no one complained to the police officer. Considering the circumstances, D'Arcy's neighbors likely thought the message to be nothing but a joke in keeping with the season. Therefore - considering that the statute requires making Criminal Threats that scare somebody – D'Arcy shouldn't be convicted.       

The Threat (Or Fear) Was Unreasonable

Example:  One Halloween night, a homeowner, Defendant D'Arcy, decides to create a haunted house for the Trick-or-Treaters in her neighborhood. She puts up decorations and finishes her project by mounting a “silent radio” on her garage. The “radio” repeats a message reading, “Neighbors! Enter This House And D'Arcy's Ghost Will Attack You!” A frightened neighbor, Victim Vada, complains as a police officer drives past. The officer arrests D'Arcy for making Criminal Threats against Vada. Should D'Arcy be convicted of violating CPC §422?

Conclusion:  Here, again, D'Arcy shouldn't be convicted of the offense. The most obvious reason is that D'Arcy is “threatening” others with an attack by her ghost – something which probably wouldn't exist even if D'Arcy were dead (which she isn't, by the way). Therefore - since there's no proof that ghosts exist (or that D'Arcy has even passed on) - it's not reasonable to assume that Vada would be threatened by the message on the “silent radio.” D'Arcy should be acquitted of the charge of violating CPC §422.

The Fear Wasn't “Sustained”

Example: Defendant Daisy gets into an argument with Victim Varinka. At one point, she yells, “I got a gun in my purse! I'll use it!” Varinka, who's terrified, stops fighting. Daisy, seeing this, immediately tells Varinka, “Naw, I don't got no gun! I was kiddin'!” She shows Varinka the inside of her purse, which is empty, and Varinka relaxes completely – but, just then, a police officer, who heard the exchange, arrests Daisy for making Criminal Threats against Varinka. Should Daisy be convicted of violating CPC §422?    

Conclusion: Daisy did willfully threaten Varinka. Under the circumstances of a fight, Varinka could easily believe that Daisy intended to carry out the threat to use a gun. The threat, since it involved shooting, also involved threatening serious harm or death. However, when she saw that Varinka was scared, Daisy immediately told Varinka the truth, showed Varinka the contents of her purse, and Varinka was no longer scared - meaning that Varinka's fear of Daisy was not “sustained,” for purposes of the law. Daisy, therefore, shouldn't be convicted of violating CPC §422.     

You Were Engaged In Free Speech

Example: A political activist, Defendant Dalton, is invited to speak at a rally in a public park. The rally is completely lawful under City rules and is monitored by City law enforcement. At one point, Dalton, who is furious about the current government, yells, “Man, I feel like beatin' everyone who voted for this President ‘til they bleed!” A bystander, Victim Victorino, who voted for the President, becomes afraid that he'll be attacked at the rally, which is filled with people who agree with Dalton. Victorino complains to a police officer assigned to the rally. The officer arrests Dalton for making Criminal Threats against Victorino. Should Dalton be convicted of the crime?

Conclusion: Without considering whether the threat was definite enough that Victorino was reasonable in assuming it was directed against him, Dalton still did not violate the statute. While Victorino may have felt real fear at the rally, Dalton was speaking on matters of public concern, in a public forum (a park), all presented in a lawful assembly. This is a First Amendment right. (Furthermore, given that there were City police present, it's unlikely Dalton's statement would trigger any sort of violent reaction.) Dalton's viewpoint is his own; the City can't censor him. Since he was engaged in free speech, Dalton shouldn't be convicted of violating §422.  

The Accusation Was False      

Example: Defendant Dallas is named by a man who posts a threat directed at Victim Vadim on a social media website. The threat is very specific, very reasonable, and frightens Vadim for days. Vadim then reports the crime. The police, however, arrest Dallas, who had nothing to do with the posting. Dallas insists they have the wrong man but they don't listen. Should Dallas be convicted of violating CPC §422?

Conclusion: The police have what appears to be an excellent case – but against someone falsely accused. As the facts reveal, Dallas had nothing to do with the crime Vadim suffered; he was just named by the actual perpetrator, and that is all. Therefore, since no one should be convicted in this society of a crime he or she didn't commit, Dallas must be acquitted. The accusation against Dallas is simply false.

Related Offenses

Note: The crimes below are described as “related” because they're frequently charged together and/or have common elements that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

The California Penal Code contains several offenses related to Criminal Threats: Dissuading A Witness (CPC §136.1), Domestic Violence (CPC §273.5 and §243(e)(1)), Extortion (CPC §518), Stalking (CPC §646.9), and Aggravated Trespass (CPC §601).

Dissuading A Witness

 

California's basic law on Dissuading A Witness (CPC §136.1(a)(1),(2)) applies when a person convinces a witness[20] or a victim[21] not to testify at a trial or another legal proceeding. The crime can occur even if you only attempt to convince someone not testify. Dissuading A Witness is related to Criminal Threats because a well-known form of convincing witnesses not to appear at trial is through violent threats.

The dissuading act must be ‘knowing and malicious.'[22] The limit on charging under the basic statute is established in §136.1(a)(3): “[E]vidence that the defendant was a family member who interceded in an effort to protect the witness or victim shall create a presumption that the act was without malice.”   

If you're convicted of Dissuading A Witness, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to one (1) year in a county jail or state prison; OR,
  • A fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars);[23] OR,
  • Both imprisonment and a fine.[24]

Note: That no one was actually injured or intimidated is not a defense under §136.1.

You can always find more information on the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will go directly to a lawyer. That's guaranteed.

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Dissuading A Witness

To convict you under §136.1, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:       

You maliciously tried to prevent (or prevented) a person from attending, or giving testimony, at a proceeding authorized by law.

Example: Defendant Donice is being sued by Neighbor for injuring Neighbor's dog. A man who lives at the end of their street, Victim Vonn, is scheduled to testify as one of Neighbor's witnesses. Donice pays Vonn a visit and suggests that Vonn skip the hearing, telling him, “It'll be less of a hassle for you if you don't have to drive to the courthouse, anyway.” Vonn refuses. Donice continues to encourage him not to attend. Vonn reports Donice, who's arrested for violating CPC §136.1. Should Donice be convicted?

Conclusion: Donice tried to convince Vonn not to testify at an upcoming trial (a proceeding authorized by law), meaning that he acted “maliciously,” since Donice tried to interfere with the administration of justice. It doesn't matter that he didn't threaten Vonn. Donice should be convicted of violating §136.1.   

Domestic Violence: §273.5

 

California has two Domestic Violence laws related to Criminal Threats. The first law is CPC §273.5, also known as “Inflicting Traumatic Injury,” which applies whenever anyone “willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition[25] upon” a spouse, a cohabitant,[26] a fiancé or fiancée, or the mother or father[27] of the attacker's child.[28] For purposes of the law, people can ‘cohabit' with multiple people at different locations at the same time, but they must have substantial relationships with all and live with them all for a significant time.[29]

Section 273.5 is related to Criminal Threats because violent threats often accompany traumatic injuries to family members in Domestic Violence cases.

If you're convicted of Domestic Violence under §273.5, which is a Felony, the penalty may be:

  • A term in state prison of two (2), three (3), or four (4) years; OR;
  • A fine of up to $6,000 (six-thousand dollars); OR;
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[30]

Note: Acting in Self-Defense can result in being acquitted of charges filed under §273.5.[31]

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Domestic Violence (§273.5)

To convict you under §273.5, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You willfully inflicted traumatic physical injury on your current or former spouse, cohabitant, the mother or father of your child, or someone with whom you had an engagement or dating relationship, and you didn't act in self-defense or defense of someone else.

Example: Defendant Damian goes to visit his ex-husband, Victim Vincent, who has custody of their infant child. While there, Damian overhears Vincent screaming at the child, who's lying in his crib. Then he observes Vincent grabbing the child by the leg and violently shaking him. Damian grabs the nearest item he can find (a baseball bat) and strikes Vincent in the head, forcing Vincent to put the child down, but Vincent, whose head is bleeding profusely, calls the police and reports Damian for Domestic Violence. Should Damian be convicted of violating CPC §273.5?

Conclusion: Damian has inflicted a traumatic injury on his ex-husband by hitting him in the head with a baseball bat. Damian's ex-husband - while they are no longer married - still qualifies as a “victim” under the statute, since he's Damian's former spouse. Damian also intended on hitting his ex-husband, making the act “willful.” However, Damian hit his ex-husband to prevent him from hurting their son, meaning that Damian was defending a third party. Damian, therefore, shouldn't be convicted of violating §273.5.      

Domestic Violence: §243(e)(1)

 

The second Domestic Violence statute related to Criminal Threats is CPC §243(e)(1), making it a crime to commit Battery against “the parent of [your] child, [your] former spouse, fiancé, or fiancée, or a person with whom [you] currently [have], or [have] previously had, a dating or engagement[32] relationship.”[33]

Several definitions (such as “parent of the defendant's child”) are the same as those provided in §273.5, though not all are identical. Here, again, Criminal Threats is related to the charge because Battery is often seen in Domestic Violence cases.

If you're convicted of Domestic Violence under §243(e)(1), the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to one (1) year in a state prison; OR;
  • A fine of up to $1,000 (one-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.

Note: Even slight touching with something indirectly connected to you can result in a battery. This includes making someone else do the touching.[34] Probation, however, is possible.[35]

You can find more information in the Domestic Violence Lawyer section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will go directly to a lawyer. We guarantee it.

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Domestic Violence (§243)

To convict you under §243(e)(1), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You willfully touched a person in a harmful or offensive manner. The person is your current or former spouse, cohabitant, fiancé or fiancée, or a person with whom you currently have, or previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, or the person is the mother or father of your child. Finally, you didn't act in self-defense or defense someone else.

Example: Defendant Dayna goes to a restaurant and runs into her ex-boyfriend, who's with his new girlfriend, Victim Valerie. Dayna, who didn't know they were dating, is angry and jealous. She becomes violent and grabs Valerie by the arm. Valerie shakes free of Dayna's grip but decides to call the police and reports Dayna, who's arrested for Domestic Violence under §243(e)(1). Should Dayna be convicted of the crime?

Conclusion: Dayna touched Valerie in a violent manner. She didn't do this by way of defending herself or someone else; she was just angry with her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend. However, Valerie is just the ex-boyfriend's current girlfriend. Had she touched her ex-boyfriend, Dayna would've committed Domestic Violence under §243. Given that Valerie isn't protected by the statute, Dayna shouldn't be convicted of violating the statute (though she can be prosecuted for committing Assault and Battery).[36]

Extortion

 

The basic form of Extortion (CPC §518), “Extortion By Threat Or Force,” occurs in California whenever a person obtains valuables or official acts[37] from another (with his or her consent[38]) through wrongful use of force, fear,[39] or under a claim of an official right.

The threat that's the basis of the extortion “may involve harm to be inflicted by [you] or by someone else.”[40] Extortion is connected to Criminal Threats because a threat that makes up Extortion can also be a Criminal Threat, which allows the prosecution to charge you with both in the same trial.

If you're convicted of Extortion under §518, which is a Felony, the penalty may be:

  • A term of two (2), three (3), or four (4) years imprisonment;[41] OR,
  • A fine of up to $10,000 (ten-thousand dollars);[42] OR,
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[43]

Note: The threat or force must be the main reason the person consented. If the person consented for some other reason, you can't be guilty of Extortion. Also, remember, threatening to do something you have a legal right to do isn't the same thing as threating to commit “unlawful injury.”[44]

You can find more information in the Extortion section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will go directly to a lawyer – and that's always guaranteed.

California Criminal Jury Instructions - Extortion

To convict you under §518, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You threatened another person or that person's property, intending to obtain the person's consent to give you money or property, or to do an official act. As a result, the other person consented. Finally, the other person gave you money or property or did an official act.

Example:  Defendant Dennis overhears his sister, Victim Valentina, talking about a robbery she and her boyfriend committed. She mentions where it happened, when, and how much money they got. Dennis later confronts Valentina and demands a share of the proceeds if he's to remain quiet. Valentina, who knows how much Dennis overheard, fears he'll call the police and agrees to pay him. However, at the last moment, she decides to call an officer. She confesses to the robbery and reports her brother for Extortion. Should Dennis be arrested for violating CPC §518?

Conclusion: Dennis threatened Valentina with calling the police to report her crime. This created fear in Valentina, considering how much detail Dennis had regarding the real crime. The clear purpose of the threat was for Dennis to obtain valuable property (a cut of the profits from the robbery). Then Valentina agreed to part with the property. The only element not present is receipt of the money. Since Valentina never provided Dennis with the money he demanded, Dennis can't be convicted of violating CPC §518.[45]

Stalking

 

California's law against Stalking (CPC §646.9) applies whenever a person follows or harasses[46] another person and makes a threat intending to place that person in fear for his or her safety or the safety of immediate family.[47] The threat must always be “credible,”[48] malicious,[49] and repeated[50] to be a crime. Stalking law is related to Criminal Threats because both require the making of a threat for a conviction.

If you're convicted of Stalking under §CPC 646.9(a), the punishment may be:

  • A term of one (1) year in a county jail or state prison; OR,
  • A fine of up to $1,000 (one-thousand dollars); OR,
  • Both imprisonment and a fine.[51]

Note: The prosecution doesn't have to prove you actually intended to carry out a threat. Also, remember, you can make a threat while in prison or in jail and still be guilty of Stalking.[52]

You can find more information on the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will go directly to a lawyer. That's our guarantee.

California Criminal Jury Instructions – Stalking

To convict you under §646.9(a), the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You maliciously harassed or repeatedly followed another person. You also made a credible threat intending to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or for the safety of his or her immediate family.

Example: Defendant Dacia is obsessed with a young man, Victim Vallen, and has asked him out to dinner several times. Vallen has refused her every time. Now Dacia has taken to following Vallen around the campus where both attend college. Although Dacia does nothing strange or disturbing while she follows him, Vallen finds her behavior annoying and embarrassing. Finally, having reached his wit's end, Vallen calls the campus police, who arrest Dacia for Stalking under §646.9(a). Should Dacia be convicted?

Conclusion: While Dacia harassed Vallen (knowing that he didn't want to date her, she continued to bother him, in other words), Dacia never threatened Vallen in any way; she just followed him. Though Dacia annoyed Vallen, making her conduct “malicious,” any fear Vallen might have felt isn't reasonable; Dacia did nothing to even suggest a threat. Therefore, Dacia shouldn't be convicted under ‍§646.9(a).

Aggravated Trespassing

The California law against Aggravated Trespass (CPC §601) applies when anyone makes a serious threat to hurt another person and trespasses onto that person's property or goes into that person's workplace.

The law only applies to someone who commits Stalking under CPC §646.9 (see above) or a person who shows or uses a firearm in a fight (CPC §417). It's also known as “Trespass After Credible Threat.” The crime is related to Criminal Threats because Aggravated Trespass also requires making a violent threat.

If you're convicted of Aggravated Trespass, the penalty may be:

  • A term of up to one (1) year in county jail; OR,
  • A fine of up to $2,000 (two-thousand dollars); OR;
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.[53]

Note: The trespass must occur: (a) within thirty days of the threat; and, (b) to carry out the threat.[54]

You can find more information in the Trespassing Lawyer section of the Kann California Defense Group's website. Feel free to contact the Kann Defense Group offices in Santa Clarita, Ventura, Encino, Pasadena or Los Angeles/Los Angeles County. Your call will go directly to a lawyer. That's always our guarantee.

California Criminal Jury Instructions   

To convict you under CPC §601, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

You made a credible threat[55] to cause serious bodily injury[56] to a person, intending to place the person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or for the safety of his or her immediate family.[57] You unlawfully entered the person's residence, or property next to that person's residence, OR the person's workplace (and you knew it was that person's workplace). You tried to locate the person, intending to carry out the threat. Finally, you trespassed within thirty days of making the threat.

Example: Defendant Devon, who hates Victim Vanessa, decides to harass her by posting a series of threats on her Facebook page. He posts pictures of her walking down the street and adds lines of text that say things like “Dead woman!” and “I bought a gun, Vanessa!” Then he posts a picture of himself with a pistol and a sales receipt. Two weeks after the threat, Devon goes to his favorite bar, a place he's frequented for years, and there he encounters Vanessa, who was hired that day as a server. Vanessa is terrified. She calls out to a group of police who quickly arrest Devon for violating CPC §601. Should Devon be convicted of the crime?  

Conclusion: Showing the pistol and writing the text messages suggest that Devon would seriously hurt (or even kill) Vanessa, making his threats credible. Devon's posting a picture of the weapon also made Vanessa's fear reasonable. Finally, Devon encountered Vanessa just two weeks (fourteen days) after making the threat. All of this supports conviction. However, Devon didn't go to the bar to seek out Vanessa; it's just his favorite drinking establishment. He also had no idea Vanessa worked there before walking in (nor could he have known, since she was just hired), so he couldn't have intended on carrying out the threat when he saw Vanessa. Devon, therefore, shouldn't be convicted of violating §601.[58]

What Can I Do If I'm Charged With Criminal Threats?

The State of California treats Criminal Threats as a very serious offense. If you're charged with making Criminal Threats, it's essential that you retain a skilled, dedicated criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your rights, freedom, and livelihood are at stake.

Remember, a professional criminal defense attorney may be able to:

  • Negotiate a lesser charge in a plea bargain;
  • Reduce your sentence;
  • Or even get charges dismissed completely.

The attorneys at the Kann California Defense Group have an excellent understanding of the local courts and an extensive knowledge of California's criminal justice system. We can represent you in Ventura, Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, Encino, Pasadena and many other Southern California cities. If you or someone you know has been arrested for, or charged with, Criminal Threats, our attorneys will analyze the facts of your case and plan a strategy that will help you obtain the best possible outcome.

Contact the Kann California Defense Group today to schedule your free and confidential consultation.   

References

[1] See CPC §422(a).

[2] See California Criminal Jury Instructions 1300 (CALCRIM) (2017) (“Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose”).

[3] “Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm.” See above.

[4] The threat can be made verbally, in writing or by an electronic device, but “[a]n immediate ability to carry out the threat is not required” (emphasis added). See above.

[5] See In re David L, 234 Cal.App. 1655, 1659 (1991). (“The kind of threat contemplated by section 422 may as readily be conveyed by the threatener [sic] through a third party as personally to the intended victim.”)

[6] See California Criminal Jury Instructions 1300 (CALCRIM) (2017) (“An electronic communication device includes, but is not limited to: a telephone, cellular telephone, pager, computer, video recorder, or fax machine”).

[7] “Someone who intends that a statement be understood as a threat does not have to actually intend to carry out the threatened act or intend to have someone else do so.” See above.

[8] “In deciding whether a threat was sufficiently clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific, [the jury must] consider the words themselves, as well as the surrounding circumstances.” See above.

[9] “Sustained fear means fear for a period of time that is more than momentary, fleeting, or transitory.” See above.

[10] “Immediate family means (a) any spouse, parents, and children; (b) any grandchildren, grandparents, brothers and sisters related by blood or marriage; or (c) any person who regularly lives in the other person's household [or who regularly lived there within the prior six months.” See above.

[11] Facts based on People v. Franz, 88 Cal.App.4th 1426 (2001).

[12] See “Wobbler” definition at USLegal.com (“In California, Wobbler refers to a criminal offense that can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. It ‘wobbles' between these two categories of offenses. It signifies a lesser felony offense that specifies fines or jail time as alternative punishments to state prison”).

[13] See CPC §19 (establishing prison term and fine for Misdemeanor offenses).

[14] The sentence is established in CPC §18.

[15] The fine is established in CPC §672.

[16] See CPC §12022(b)(1) (“A person who personally uses a deadly or dangerous weapon in the commission of a felony or attempted felony shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for one year, unless use of a deadly or dangerous weapon is an element of that offense”).

[17] See CPC §1170(h)(1).

[18] See CPC §667(e)(2)(A)(ii).

[19] Facts based on In re Ryan D, 100 Cal.App. 4th 854 (2002).

[20] “As used here, witness means someone [or a person the defendant reasonably believed to be someone] [Who knows about the existence or nonexistence of facts relating to a crime] [¶] [OR] [Whose declaration under oath has been or may be received as evidence] [¶] [OR] [Who has reported a crime to a peace officer, or prosecutor, or probation or parole officer, or correctional officer, or judicial officer] [¶] [OR] [Who has been served with a subpoena issued under the authority of any state or federal court.]” See California Criminal Jury Instructions 2622 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[21] “A person is a victim if there is reason to believe that a federal or state crime is being or has been committed or attempted against him or her.” See above.

[22] “A person acts maliciously when he or she unlawfully intends to annoy, harm, or injure someone else in any way, or intends to interfere in any way with the orderly administration of justice.” See above.

[23] See Endnote 15.

[24] See above.

[25] “A traumatic condition is a wound or other bodily injury, whether minor or serious, caused by the direct application of physical force.” See California Criminal Jury Instructions 840 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[26] “The term cohabitants means two unrelated persons living together for a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of the relationship.” See above.

[27] “A person is considered to be the (mother/father) of another person's child if the alleged male parent is presumed under law to be the natural father.” See above.

[28] See CPC §273.5(a),(b)(1-4).

[29] “A person may cohabit simultaneously with two or more people at different locations, during the same time frame, if he or she maintains substantial ongoing relationships with each person and lives with each person for significant periods.” See California Criminal Jury Instructions 840 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[30] See CPC §273.5(a).

[31] See California Criminal Jury Instructions 840 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[32] “The term dating relationship means frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement independent of financial considerations.” See California Criminal Jury Instructions 841 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[33] See CPC §243(e)(1).

[34] See California Criminal Jury Instructions 841 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[35] See Endnote 33.

[36] See Assault and Battery, CPC §240.

[37] “An official act is an act that a person does in his or her official capacity, using the authority of his or her public office.” See California Criminal Jury Instructions 1830 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[38] “Consent for extortion can be coerced or unwilling, as long as it is given as a result of the wrongful use of force or fear.” See above.

[39] “Fear” is defined in CPC §519.

[40] See California Criminal Jury Instructions 1830 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[41] See CPC §520.

[42] See Endnote 15.

[43] See Endnote 40.

[44] See above.

[45] Dennis could still be tried for Attempted Extortion (CPC §524).

[46] “Harassing means engaging in a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously annoys, alarms, torments, or terrorizes the person and that serves no legitimate purpose. [¶] A course of conduct means two or more acts occurring over a period of time, however short, demonstrating a continuous purpose.” See California Criminal Jury Instructions 1301 (CALCRIM) (2017)

[47] “Immediate family means (a) any spouse, parents, and children; (b) any grandchildren, grandparents, brothers, and sisters related by blood or marriage; or (c) any person who regularly lives in the other person's [household].” See above.

[48] “A credible threat is one that causes the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety [or for the safety of his or her immediate family] and one that the maker of the threat appears to be able to carry out. [¶] A credible threat may be made orally, in writing, or electronically or may be implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of statements and conduct.” See above.

[49] “Someone [is malicious] when he or she intentionally does a wrongful act or when he or she acts with the unlawful intent to disturb, annoy, or injure someone else.” See above.

[50] “[Repeated] means more than once.” See above.

[51] See CPC §646.9(a).

[52] See California Criminal Jury Instructions 1301 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[53] The term and fine are established in CPC §601(d).

[54] See California Criminal Jury Instructions 2929 (CALCRIM) (2017).

[55] “A credible threat is one that causes the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety [or for the safety of his or her immediate family] and one that the maker of the threat appears to be able to carry out. [¶] A credible threat may be made orally, in writing, or electronically or may be implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of statements and conduct.” See California Criminal Jury Instructions 2929 (CALCRIM) (2017).              

[56] “A serious bodily injury means a serious impairment of physical condition. Such an injury may include, but is not limited to: (loss of consciousness/ concussion/ bone fracture/ protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ/ a wound requiring extensive suturing/ [and] serious disfigurement).” See above.

[57] “Immediate family means (a) a spouse, parent, or child; (b) a grandchild, grandparent, brother, or sister related by blood or marriage; and (c) a person who regularly lives in the household [or who regularly lived there within the six months before the alleged incident].” See above.

[58] Devon could still be charged with Criminal Threats (CPC §422).

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