If an individual intentionally puts another individual in a state of fear by means of threats, these threats are known in the State of California as criminal threats, under California Penal Code 422. Criminal threats also may be referred to as terrorist threats. According to California Penal Code 422, when one threatens to physically harm or kill someone else and that person is in a state of fear as a result of the threats, then the person making the threats may be charged with the crime of criminal threats in California. Someone may be charged, under Penal Code 422, with the crime of making a criminal threat if the threat is specific and the threat has been communicated verbally, in writing or through technological correspondence means. A person can be charged with making criminal threats in California, regardless of whether he or she truly planned to carry out the threats, it is important to note.

Consequences For A Criminal Threats Conviction

If one has been found in violation of California Penal Code 422, he or she may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, based on the circumstances surrounding the incident. If a person has been charged and convicted of a misdemeanor offense for making a criminal threat or threats, he or she may face up to one year in a county jail. If one has been charged and convicted of a felony offense for violating California Penal Code 422, he or she could spend up to four years in a state prison. Furthermore, the use of a dangerous weapon in correlation with the verbal, written or electronic threat or threats could add prison time on to that sentence.

Defenses For A Penal Code 422 Violation

When would someone likely be charged for making criminal threats in the State of California, based on Penal Code 422? One example, would be when a person verbally threatens to shoot someone, while pulling out his or her gun during a heated discussion. Another example would be an ex-wife telling her ex-husband she plans to burn his home down as a way to get even with him. If an individual has made a threat or threats to someone else, he or she may be charged for violating California Penal Code 422. It would then be advisable for that person to seek skilled legal counsel, specifically a professional with experience defending a Penal Code 422 violation. Based on the language of Penal Code 422, a criminal defense attorney could argue that the threat or threats made were very vague, lacking the specifics needed for a conviction. The California criminal defense attorney also could work to prove the recipient of the threat was not ever in actual fear. Additionally, the attorney could defend her client by fighting that the alleged fear was not a reasonable response to what took place. Furthermore, a criminal defense attorney may discover that the treat was simply a gesture and was never conveyed to another person in writing, verbally or electronically, thus a conviction would not be reasonable under the guidelines for criminal threats outlined in California Penal Code 422.