What is Your Best Strategy?
I've been handling these domestic violence cases for over twenty-five years and have had a lot of success. When I first started practicing criminal defense, these criminal threats or terrorist threats cases as they were called way back when were not nearly as serious as they are now. The legislature, the prosecutors and the judges have really taken these cases to, I think, an extreme in the way they prosecute them and the way they deal with them.
For example, when these crimes were prosecuted years ago, a lot of people would be looking at misdemeanors, and now a lot of times the prosecutors are filing felonies. They're trying to get people in prison. It's just amazing to me that somebody's words could be used against them in such a way that it puts them in a horrible position for the rest of their life if they take one of these convictions.
Criminal Threat Cases Under California Penal Code Section 422
If you're convicted of criminal threats as a felony, you can have a strike on your record for the rest of your life in California. These crimes have been made strikes by the legislature, and the judges and prosecutors obviously treat them this way. Of course, you're going to have to be charged with a felony for it to be a strike.
If it's a misdemeanor, it's not a strike. So, a lot of times when I handle these cases, obviously if the person did threaten somebody, then we're trying to get these cases down to a misdemeanor, so the person doesn't have a strike or isn't facing prison and a lot of the other punishments that come along with a strike offense. Also, the amount of time you serve if you get convicted of a strike is usually increased if it's a criminal threats case. So, we obviously want to try to make sure that you don't get convicted of a criminal threats case.
A wobbler in Los Angeles, California is basically an offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. So, it's up to the prosecutor's discretion to charge these criminal threats cases as either felonies or misdemeanors. A lot of times I see them charged as felonies and they shouldn't be charged as felonies because the person just became angry and said some things they shouldn't have said, but they shouldn't now be facing prison time and a mark on their record for the rest of their lives.
A lot of times what I do is get your version of events across to the prosecutor and say, wait a minute, you guys don't have the whole story. You don't know what this person did to my client. You don't know what this person said to my client, and now they're just taking a little snippet in time and trying to prosecute the person for a very serious criminal offense.
So, there are motions that can be filed to reduce criminal threat cases in LA down to misdemeanors to get them expunged off your record, but the bottom line is you're going to need an attorney who has been down this road before, had success and knows how to deal with a criminal threats case.
Defenses to Criminal Threats Cases in Los Angeles
A lot of times there are built-in defenses in these cases because the police are only coming in half-way through whatever happened. They don't get your version of events. The other party is trying to use the criminal justice system as a sword in what's really a civil matter. The other party has cheated you, stole your money, done something unsavory to you, and then tries to quickly hide behind law enforcement and say, you're threatening them, you said you're going to come and get them when law enforcement doesn't even have the full story.
If they did have the full story and the prosecutors knew what really happened behind everything, then they would never prosecute the case criminally and they would tell the other part, listen, you have to deal with this civilly. Don't bring this into the criminal arena. So, this is where your criminal defense attorney is invaluable, to be able to attack some of these people who are claiming that this is a criminal case and really get them in court and get them under cross-examination under penalty of perjury and start to rip apart their version of events and start to rip apart the prosecution's case.
So, if you're charged with a criminal threats case in Los Angeles, you are going to have to get to somebody who has been doing this a long time, who's got the credentials, who's got the background, knows how to win these cases and knows how to fight them. If the case can't be won, because for example, you threaten a person on tape and they've got the threat, then we at least need to get your version of events across. We need to get the person you are to show them that this is an aberration. It's not going to happen again and get this case taken care of, so you can get out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible and protect your rights, your freedom and your reputation.