San Diego Criminal Threat Defense Lawyers
Accused of Making Criminal Threats? Call Us
Threatening another person can be a serious crime in California. This crime was once known as making terrorist threats, however, the name was changed a few years ago. Criminal threats are considered crimes of moral turpitude, meaning they are considered more offensive and reprehensible than other crimes by the court.
Anyone found guilty of making criminal threats can face several years in prison. Additionally, there may be immigration consequences that would make this a deportable crime. You will also have a permanent criminal record that could bar you from certain opportunities, such as gaining employment, housing, or even certain scholarships. If you were accused of making threats, speak to a San Diego criminal defense lawyer right away. Call jD LAW, P.C., at (760) 630-2000 to find out how we can build a custom defense for you.
What Is a Criminal Threat?
According to California Penal Code 422 PC, a criminal threat is the act of threatening to kill or seriously injure another person. The victim must be placed into a state of reasonably sustained fear for his or her own safety, or for the safety of his or her immediate family.
For the prosecution to prove its case, the Code states the threat must be specific and unequivocal. Making vague threats or implying that another person is going to be hurt is not enough to convict someone of this crime. The threat may be made verbally or through an electronic device.
Also, law enforcement can charge you with making criminal threats even if you do not have the means or ability to actually carry out the threat.
Penalties for Criminal Threats
Making criminal threats is a wobbler crime. This means the prosecution has the discretion to charge this crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Those convicted on a misdemeanor charge face up to one year in county jail. However, those charged with a felony face up to four years in state prison. When a weapon that is considered deadly or dangerous is used in conjunction with the threat, another year is added to the sentence.
Criminal threats are also considered a strike under California’s three strikes law. As such, when a person is convicted and sentenced to prison or jail, he or she must serve at least 85% of the sentence before being eligible for release.
Defenses to Criminal Threats
Due to the definition of criminal threats, there are several defenses to this crime. The first is if the threat was not specific, but rather vague or ambiguous. Even threatening gestures cannot be considered a crime if the threat was not made verbally or via an electronic device.
A charge of criminal threats also relies on the recipient’s fear, so the person must have been afraid of death or bodily harm for your statements to be considered a crime. If the recipient had no reason to fear for his or her safety, was not in fear, or the fear was fleeting, the crime of criminal threats did not occur.
Of course, as with all crimes, a false accusation may have been made and you never made a criminal threat at all. This can also serve as a defense.
Contact the California Criminal Defense Specialist Who Can Help
If you have been arrested or are under investigation, contact jD LAW, P.C., at (760) 630-2000. We understand the serious nature of this offense. We also know how best to defend you and will prepare solid arguments to show you did not commit this crime. Criminal threats are taken very seriously in California, but there is hope. Call today to get the help you need.
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