Answers to Your California Criminal Threat Questions
Maybe you got into an argument with your ex and said some things that you didn’t mean. Maybe you were in a bar fight and threatened another person with a gun. Maybe you told your former employer to watch his back. No big deal, right? There was no harm done—no one was hurt.
In California, threatening another person could still be considered a crime. That means you could be looking at jail time for merely insinuating that you might do them harm. It is important that you understand what is defined as a criminal threat, the associated penalties and of course, possible defenses.
What is a Criminal Threat under California Law?
Section 422 of the California Penal Code is where you can find the legal definition of a criminal threat. According to this law, “any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out.” The law goes on to say that if this threat causes the other person to experience fear, you may be punished.
What are the Penalties of a Criminal Threat in California?
The penalties depend on whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. As the law states, you could be imprisoned in county jail for up to one year. If there were other charges against you, this punishment could be even worse.
Can I Defend Myself against a Criminal Threat Charge?
You do have the right to defend yourself from the charge made against you. Even if you did make a threat, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be viewed as a criminal act. For example, if your threat was vague or momentary, you may be able to avoid punishment. Also, if your threat didn’t cause the other person to be fearful, it could mean no jail time for you.
There are many other defenses that may be raised in criminal threat cases. For more information, contact an experienced Torrance criminal lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Ernenwein at 310-375-5858. We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.