Criminal Threats – The 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, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family's safety, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison.”

 

 

The threat can be made verbally, in writing, by phone, e-mail or another electronic communication device. You can be convicted of making a criminal threat even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out.

A criminal threat involves threatening to commit an act of violence that would endanger others, with a reckless disregard for the harm it would cause to others.

If you joke about having a bomb or a gun on an airplane, for example, you could be charged with making a criminal threat even though it was just a joke. Whatever your intention, if the threat you make is a credible one, you can be charged with making a criminal threat.

A criminal threat is a felony offense and a “strike crime”.

Criminal threats can be made against anyone. However, when the threat is directed toward an intimate partner, the charge will be treated as a domestic violence abuse case and prosecuted under Domestic Violence Law.

 

CRIMINAL THREATS. What the DA MUST Prove Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?

Jury Instruction 1300. Criminal Threat

 

The defendant is charged [in Count ] with having made a criminal threat [in violation of Penal Code section 422].

 

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

 

1. The defendant willfully threatened to unlawfully kill or unlawfully cause great bodily injury to <insert name of complaining witness or member[s] of complaining witness’s immediate family>;

2. The defendant made the threat (orally/in writing/by electronic communication device);

3. The defendant intended that (his/her) statement be understood as a threat [and intended that it be communicated to <insert name of complaining witness>];

4. The threat was so clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific that it communicated to <insert name of complaining witness> a serious intention and the immediate prospect that the threat would be carried out;

5. The threat actually caused <insert name of complaining witness> to be in sustained fear for (his/her) own safety [or for the safety of (his/her) immediate family];  AND

6. ____________’s <insert name of complaining witness> fear was reasonable under the circumstances.

 

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose.

 

In deciding whether a threat was sufficiently clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific, consider the words themselves, as well as the surrounding circumstances.

 

Someone who intends that a statement be understood as a threat does not have to actually intend to carry out the threatened act [or intend to have someone else do so].

 

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose.

 

In deciding whether a threat was sufficiently clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific, consider the words themselves, as well as the surrounding circumstances.

 

Someone who intends that a statement be understood as a threat does not have to actually intend to carry out the threatened act [or intend to have someone else do so].

 

Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm.

 

Sustained fear means fear for a period of time that is more than momentary, fleeting, or transitory.

 

[An immediate ability to carry out the threat is not required.]

 

[An electronic communication device includes, but is not limited to: a telephone, cellular telephone, pager, computer, video recorder, or fax machine.]

 

[Immediate family means (a) any spouse, parents, and children; (b) any grandchildren, grandparents, brothers and sisters related by blood or marriage; or (c) any person who regularly lives in the other person’s household [or who regularly lived there within the prior six months].]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You only get one chance to hear "Not Guilty".

Give yourself the best chance to get the best possible result.

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