PC 422 – Criminal Threats in California
Representing Individuals Accused of Violating California Penal Code 422 PC in Southern California
Making a credible threat to kill or seriously injure another person is a crime in California, even if the person who makes the threat does not intend to commit the threatened act. A criminal threat can be made against anyone, but threats against family members are regarded as crimes of domestic violence.
If you have been falsely accused, you need aggressive representation that focuses on obtaining a dismissal or acquittal. In other cases, you may want to work out a resolution that puts the problem behind you. In many cases, it is possible to avoid a conviction or to have a conviction expunged.
If you have been accused of, arrested for, or charged with making criminal threats, getting help from an experienced domestic violence defense attorney gives you the best opportunity to avoid serious consequences. To obtain advice about the strategy that is best suited to your case, talk to a criminal threats defense lawyer at The Law Offices of Randy Collins.
Proof of Criminal Threats
Before the year 2000, the legislature referred to 422 PC as the “terrorist threat” law. Recognizing that the statute has nothing to do with terrorism and that the word “terrorist” instills prejudice against the accused, the name of the crime was changed to “criminal threats.”
To obtain a criminal threats conviction, the prosecution is required to prove each of these facts beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The accused willfully threatened to unlawfully kill or unlawfully cause great bodily injury to another person.
- The accused communicated that threat orally, in writing, or by electronic communication.
- The accused intended the statement to be understood as a threat and intended that it be communicated to the threatened person.
- The threat was so clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific that it communicated a serious intention and the immediate prospect that the threat would be carried out.
- The threat actually caused the threatened person to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for the safety of an immediate family member.
- The threatened person’s fear was reasonable under the circumstances.
With so many facts to prove, it is often difficult for prosecutors to obtain criminal threat convictions. The law’s complexity gives criminal defense attorneys many opportunities to establish reasonable doubt that will lead to a “not guilty” verdict.
Defenses to Criminal Threats Accusations
Matching the right defense to the facts of the case requires knowledge of the law, a careful investigation of the facts, and experience. Some of the most common defenses include:
- No threat was made (the accusation is false).
- A threat was made but not by the accused (mistaken identity).
- The “threat” was not a threat at all because it was meant as a joke.
- No reasonable person would have taken the “threat” seriously.
- The threatened person did not, in fact, take the threat seriously.
- If the threatened person felt any fear at all, it was momentary rather than sustained fear.
- The “threat” was not made directly to the threatened person and the person who made it did not intend that it would be communicated to the threatened person.
- The person accused of making the threat was in no position to carry out the threat.
- The perceived threat did not communicate an intent to take immediate or imminent action that would harm the threatened person.
- The perceived threat did not specifically threaten death or great bodily injury. A great bodily injury is a significant or substantial injury. Threatening to slap or punch someone does not satisfy that standard.
- The threat was vague.
- The threat was communicated by gesture (such as a raised fist) rather than words.
- The accused had a lawful right to threaten to act in self-defense.
- Under some circumstances, a conditional threat might not satisfy the standard. “I will kill you if you marry Gary” would probably not be a criminal threat, in part because it is conditioned on an act that may or may not occur.
Other defenses may also be available, depending on the facts of the case. Those facts will depend in part on whether other witnesses can corroborate that the threat was made, whether those witnesses are telling the same story, and whether they are credible. An aggressive cross-examination often creates doubt as to whether a criminal threat was ever made.
Defending Charges of Criminal Threats in Southern California
Recognized as one of Orange County’s top criminal defense lawyers, Randy Collins will use his years of experience to select the defense that is best for you. Whether you want to take your case to trial or resolve it short of trial, criminal threats defense attorney Randy Collins will work tirelessly on your behalf to obtain the best achievable outcome.
The Law Offices of Randy Collins represents individuals charged with criminal threats in Orange County, Riverside County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, and elsewhere in Southern California. Call (888) 250-2865 to make an appointment at one of our convenient offices.