iStock_000044274120_Medium.jpgMaking threats to someone, even through social media, is against the law in California. According to California Penal Code 422, making electronic, verbal or written threats to someone’s safety is considered a crime. This is because the person making the threat most likely intends to carry out the threat to cause another person harm physical, which may include bodily injury, such a through rape, or even death.

Penal Code 422 states the person being threatened through social media must immediately fear for his or safety or the safety of his or her loved ones, including family and friends, for it to be a crime under the California law. To be charged with a crime, law enforcement must believe the person making the threat could immediately act on it. Someone found violating Penal Code 422 could be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. Those charged as a felony for making a criminal threat could face up to three years in prison. A misdemeanor charge for making a criminal threat is punishable up to a year in jail.

Understanding Penal Code 422

To further understand what a criminal threat is, let’s look more into California Penal Code 422. According to the code, putting someone in a real state of fear is a criminal threat, plain and simple. The code defines a criminal threat as threatening to physically hurt or kill a person. Again, it is a crime if the person being threatened is afraid for his or her and/or his or her family’s well being. Even if the person really did not intend to carry out his or threat to another individual, he or she could face a criminal threat charge and would face a possible punishment for his or her actions.

For example, someone who threatens, via Twitter, to bring a gun over to someone else’s home and start shooting, would be guilty of making a criminal threat. Even a fired employee could be found guilty of making a verbal threat if he says on the last day of work that the rest of the employees had better “watch their backs.” Another example would be an ex girlfriend sending a text message to her ex boyfriend threatening to burn his home down since he no longer values their relationship.

Defending criminal threats made through social media

If you or a loved one have been charged in California with making a criminal threat, electronically, verbally or through social media, it is important to get in contact with a criminal defense attorney with extensive knowledge of Penal Code 422. An attorney may successfully  defend the charge in court by first discussing the situation surrounding the threat or threats to the defendant. Perhaps, the recipient of the threat wasn’t actually in fear, for example. Maybe, the threat was quickly fleeting and could never have been carried out. Furthermore, the accuser could have made a false allegation and there really was no criminal threat made. For immediate help with your case, contact my office to set up a consultation.