Criminal Threats Defense
Once called “terroristic threats,” criminal threats are defined as threats to willfully kill or seriously injure another person, with the specific intent of causing sustained fear or causing a public panic. These threats can be made verbally or by electronic communication, such as text messages and emails. In addition, criminal threats are frequently connected to domestic violence crimes.
Prosecuted under Penal Code Section 422, criminal threats are wobblers and therefore are treated as either a misdemeanor or felony. As a first offense, a misdemeanor conviction will be punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. The punishment for a felony is much more severe, with up to three years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
A criminal threat can also be prosecuted as a federal crime if it involves a government official, such as the President of the United States. Although federal charges are extensively investigated and prosecuted, in both state and federal cases, prosecutors must show that the defendant was capable of fulfilling the threat, and that the victim reasonably feared for his or her safety.
Strategies and Solutions
A criminal threat can be made against single individuals, organizations, and ethnic or other groups. Under California state law, this is broadly defined to include examples such as:
- Calling in a bomb threat to a school or post office.
- Stalking and leaving threatening phone messages for someone with whom you’ve had a dating or marriage relationship.
- Terrorizing neighbors based on race, nationality, religious, political, or sexual orientation.
- Threatening to kill a person in public.
If you are charged with criminal threats, there are many criminal threats defense strategies your attorney can use in court. Using evidence such as audio and video proof, they can demonstrate the allegation against you is false, and that you never threatened the alleged victim. Perhaps the victim was trying to evade their own involvement in a crime, or were simply motivated by anger or jealousy. By interviewing witnesses, your attorney can also prove that what was said was taken out of context, and that you either had no intention or were not capable of acting on your threat. Even if you made a threat, perhaps it was a minor threat and the victim was not reasonably fearful.
If you have been charged with making a criminal threat, your reputation and future is on the line. David A. Stein is a criminal threats defense attorney in Orange County who will aggressively fight on your behalf. He will raise every possible domestic violence defense including insufficient evidence, mistaken identity, and your right to free speech. Contact the Law Offices of David A. Stein for a case review and to discuss your options.