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Criminal Threats

Penal Code 422 PC – Criminal Threats Law in California

California Penal Code section 422 makes it a crime to willfully threaten to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person. The statement can be verbal, written, or by electronic communication. The person making the statement has to have the specific intent that the statement is to be taken as a threat.

The crime of criminal threats has become increasingly common in California. Criminal threats crime is a wobbler meaning that depending on surrounding circumstances, it may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. If charged as a felony, it will count as a strike under the California Three Strikes Law; if it happens to be your third strike, you may face 25 years to life in prison. Our Los Angeles domestic violence lawyers will bend over backwards to prevent such a result.

Since I've been practicing over the course of the last twenty-five years, criminal threats or terrorist threats — or whatever you want to call them — have become more and more prevalent in the criminal defense world across Los Angeles County.

Criminal Threats is a “Wobbler” Crime

A lot of times people would settle disputes with other people by threatening the people or if they wanted to gain an advantage in a civil dispute, they would threaten the other person and it was very difficult for law enforcement to effectively deal with this.

Penal Code 422 PC – Criminal Threats Law in California

But now with the Criminal Threats Statute, Penal Code Section 422, which can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, and if it's charged as a felony, it's a strike.  The police and prosecutors have a lot of teeth to deal with people who are threatening other people– especially in domestic violence cases, either for some pecuniary game to win an argument or just because they've become angry with the other person.

,So, if you can avoid it, you don't want a criminal threat conviction on your record because again, it's a strike.  It will stay on your record forever.  You'll never be able to get it off if you get convicted of a criminal threats charge.

And basically, what it is, in a nutshell is that you're threatening somebody and your threat is a serious threat.  You're not joking around with the other person and the other person takes it as a threat.

So, that's what the prosecutors are asking in a felony criminal threat case at the preliminary hearing, they're going to ask what the threat was — the exact words — and you can usually tell from the words whether it's going to be a legitimate criminal threats case or not.

Then the prosecutors are asking also whether the person was afraid — whether they took the other person seriously.  If they can get the answers to these questions, then they put themselves in a pretty strong position to be able to prosecute somebody for a criminal threat case in Los Angeles.

Defenses for Criminal Threats Charges

Some of the defenses that you can use is, number one, the other person was threatening, so I sad what I said because I wanted to protect myself so they knew that I would defend myself.  Another thing is, you can say it was a joke.  I wasn't serious about it, or you could say that I'm not the one that threatened the person.

You could also argue that the other party is claiming that you threatened them because they are trying to gain an advantage in some sort of a civil dispute — maybe a divorce case; maybe an argument over money or some sort of business dispute — that's where I see a lot of these criminal threat cases, and then the other party says, he threatened me so they don't have to pay the money they owe, for example

Criminal Threats - Penal Code 422 PC
I wrote the book on defending domestic violence charges.

So, your best bet if you're charged with criminal threats in Los Angeles it obviously, to hire a lawyer like me who has done this before — who knows how to defend these cases, and if there is no defense to the case, who knows how to mitigate the case — who knows how to try to get a different charge in a criminal threat — keep you out of jail; keep you out of prison.

These are some of the concerns that you're obviously going to have.  I mean, if you criminally threaten somebody over the phone and the person tape records it, that's going to be a problem for you.  You're going to need to figure out a way to mitigate that.  Get your attorney in there.  Get a mitigation package over to the prosecutors so that you can put yourself in the best possible position.

I've seen criminal threats charges where people get convicted of them and then they either get them expunged off their record and then the question becomes, is it still a strike because a lot of people have criminal threat charges before the Three Strikes Law came into play, and the bottom line is, it's still a strike, because the Three Strikes Law is really aimed at career offenders.

So, they are looking back retroactively.  So, if you've got a strike for a criminal threat before the Three Strikes Law was enacted, it's still considered a strike as long as it meets the elements of a criminal threat and it can still be used against you to double your sentence in the future.

Lawyers Who Will Protect Your Rights and Freedom

So, the key when you're charged with any crime, and especially a strike and a criminal threat charge, is to get an attorney and develop a strategy and game plan together so that you can protect your rights, your future, your reputation and your freedom.

These are all things that are extremely important to you and you really need to decide from the beginning whether you have a defense to the criminal threat charge or whether it's something you need to resolve, and the best way to do this is to sit down with a seasoned criminal defense attorney.

Lay out all the facts in an honest manner and let them help you and guide you through the process.

If you are facing a criminal threat charge, as your defense attorney, we can guarantee our dedication to your case and our persistence in getting you the best possible result.

Our primary objective is to get your case completely dismissed by possibly showing a lack of specific intent or any other defense we may be able to assert on your behalf.

A conviction for criminal threats can result in anywhere from 16 and up to 36 months in state prison. Criminal history and specific circumstances may increase the sentence.

It is absolutely essential to have an experienced and aggressive defense attorney on your side. Our lawyers have a combined 75 years of experience and are confident in our legal skill and strategy. Contact a Los Angeles criminal threats lawyer at our law firm for aggressive legal defense against your charges.

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