Obviously, if somebody is charged with a criminal threat and a domestic violence-related offense, their situation is going to be much more serious than somebody who just has a domestic violence offense. Under California Penal Code 422, it is illegal to make criminal threats against another person. Another issue that comes up is that if somebody is charged with a felony domestic violence, for example, they may also have criminal threats.
Aa lot of times the criminal threats will be elevated to a felony because they're not likely to just charge a felony domestic violence case and then a misdemeanor criminal threat case. Felony domestic violence cases are often filed under California Penal Code 273.5, which is corporal injury to spouse.
Criminal Threats and Domestic Violence are Wobblers
It's interesting — both criminal threats and domestic violence are wobblers, meaning they can be filed as misdemeanor and it's up to the prosecutors to make that decision.
A lot of times they make the wrong decision and they'll file a criminal threats and a domestic violence case as a felony when they really shouldn't. There's a number of different factors that drive them in charging felonies or misdemeanors.
When it comes to a battery or a domestic violence-related offense, it's usually the extent of the injury and when it comes to criminal threats, it probably has more to do with the actual and apparent ability for the person to carry out the threat.
In other words, if someone is threatening to kill somebody and it looks like they really are serious about doing that and they're just thwarted because of law enforcement, obviously that case is going to be charged as a felony.
If on the other hand, someone is just talking crazy and angry and saying a bunch of crazy stuff that is a criminal threat but it's unlikely the person was ever going to act on that, then the person has a much higher probability of not being charged with a felony case.
Felony Criminal Threats is a “Strike”
Another issue when it comes to criminal threats and domestic violence is, a criminal threats as a felony is a strike. So, you'll serve a higher percentage of time if you get any jail or prison time and you'll have a strike on your record in California pursuant to the Three Strikes Law for the rest of your life.
You can't get those strikes off, even though you might be able — if you get probation — to expunge or get it dismissed, it's still priorable and it still can be used as a strike in any future felony cases that qualify as strikes in California.
So, if you have a criminal threat and a domestic violence charge together, it obviously makes it more serious and more likely you're going to get jail time in the case. It also makes it more likely the prosecutors will be aloof to give you a break when it comes to these domestic violence charges, and what you really do need is a break.
You don't want to get convicted of a criminal threat. So, a lot of times taking a domestic violence-related offense — if you have to plead guilty to something — is better than taking a criminal threat-related offense.
Defenses to Criminal Threats Charges
Obviously, the best case scenario is a dismissal or even a lesser charge like a battery or disturbing the peace or trying to convince the prosecutors to do a City Attorney hearing so you have a good chance not to get a case filed against you at all.
But, when you're looking at criminal threats in domestic violence-related offenses, you really need to look at what happened and what the surrounding circumstances are.
Sometimes people say stuff that they really don't mean and it's real questionable whether it amounts to a criminal threat or not. So, that's one defense that could be utilized in these type of cases, which is that the person didn't mean it. They weren't going to do anything.
They weren't going to act on it. The other party wasn't afraid, and in fact, the other party was yelling and saying the same crazy things. They were in an argument.
Nobody got hurt, which is crucial if you don't want a domestic violence-related offense charged against you, and therefore, you really shouldn't be charged with a criminal threat or what they used to call a terrorist threat, which obviously, it makes more sense to be called a criminal threat.
But these cases where someone's charged with a criminal threat and a domestic violence-related offense are going to be prosecuted by either the District Attorney or City Attorney.
A lot of these prosecuting agencies have special units that prosecute these type of cases and all they do is work on domestic violence-related offenses and they will assign a special prosecutor to the case.
Whereas, most criminal cases just run through a court system and the prosecutors that handle it have a larger case load and they also have a case load of different crimes.
Whereas, the prosecutors who prosecute domestic violence and criminal threat-related offenses, they have only those type or those related offenses that they work on in order to build consistency and in order to give special attention to these type of cases to protect victims of crime; to protect victims of domestic violence.
Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney
So, if you have a criminal threat charge with a domestic violence-related offense and you're looking for an attorney, I've been doing this for 25 years. I've had a lot of success either getting these charges dismissed or reduced, keeping you out of jail, keeping you out of prison.
These are the things that you really should be thinking about and targeting and there's ways to do it, but step number one is, pick up the phone. Make a call. Let's sit down and talk about it. It's not that difficult meeting with an attorney. I try to make it easy for you.
It's common sense and we really try to get down to bass tacks and figure out what the best moves are for you to protect your rights, your freedom and your reputation.