Criminal Threats (Penal Code Section 422)

A person may be found guilty of a criminal threat (also called a terrorist threat) under penal code section 422 if:

  1. The Defendant willfully threatened to unlawfully kill or unlawfully cause great bodily injury to the victim;
  2. The Defendant made the threat orally or in writing;
  3. The Defendant intended that his statement be intended as a threat and that it be communicated to the victim;
  4. The threat was so clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific that it communicated to the victim a serious intention and the immediate prospect that the threat would be carried out;
  5. The threat actually causes the victim to be in sustained fear for his own safety or that of his immediate family;
  6. The victim’s fear was reasonable.

Defenses:
The threat in question here cannot be conditional. If someone says “I am going to kill you, if you do not return my phone.” That would not be a criminal threat because the threat is conditional on the person returning the phone and therefore not immediate. This crime can be alleged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally, the prior record of the Defendant will determine if it gets filed as a felony or a misdemeanor.


Punishments: As a misdemeanor this charge faces a maximum confinement time of 1-year in custody; as a felony it carries a maximum of three years in custody and is a “strike” offense.

 

Contact Orange County criminal defense attorney Katie Walsh for help with criminal threats or any other criminal matter.