Charged with Making Criminal Threats?

As a former prosecutor, I can tell you first hand that criminal threat charges are difficult to prove. Prosecutors tend to bootstrap criminal threat charges with assault or domestic violence allegations in order to induce a plea bargain deal. There are several "generic" defenses to criminal threats: (1) the threat wasn't a threat; (2) the recipient of the threat could not have reasonably feared for their safety; (3) the recipient was not in actual fear; and, (4) the threat wasn't communicated. To discuss specific defenses tailored to the facts of your case, call me for a free case evaluation at 858-429-9982.

Criminal Threat violations are codified in Penal Code section 422. A violation of Penal Code section 422 can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The pertinent part, Penal Code section 422 states: "Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family's safety, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison."

In order to obtain a guilty verdict at trial, the prosecutor must prove that defendant committed the five separate elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
The five separate elements are:
  1. The defendant willfully threatened to unlawfully kill or unlawfully cause great bodily injury to the alleged victim;
  2. The defendant made the threat to the alleged victim (orally/in writing/by electronic communication device);
  3. The defendant intended that (his/her) statement be understood as a threat [and intended that it be communicated to the alleged victim];
  4. The threat was so clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific that it communicated to the alleged victim a serious intention and the immediate prospect that the threat would be carried out;
  5. The threat actually caused the alleged victim to be in sustained fear for (his/her) own safety [or for the safety of (his/her) immediate family];
  6. The alleged victim's fear was reasonable under the circumstances.

A conviction for Penal Code section 422 can result in a three-year State Prison commitment and a strike under California's Three Strikes Law. I have dealt with this charge hundreds of times. If you are arrested or currently facing charges for Criminal Threats in San Diego it is important to contact a lawyer immediately. Call Attorney Mark Deniz for a free case evaluation. 858-429-9982.

422. (a) Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family's safety, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison. (b) For purposes of this section, "immediate family" means any spouse, whether by marriage or not, parent, child, any person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree, or any other person who regularly resides in the household, or who, within the prior six months, regularly resided in the household. (c) "Electronic communication device" includes, but is not limited to, telephones, cellular telephones, computers, video recorders, fax machines, or pagers. "Electronic communication" has the same meaning as the term defined in Subsection 12 of Section 2510 of Title 18 of the United States Code.

Contact the Law Office of Mark Deniz now for a free case evaluation at 858-429-9982 or send an email to mark@denizdefense.com.