Criminal Threats

Criminal Threats

San Francisco Criminal Threats Lawyer

What is a Criminal Threat?

A criminal threat (formerly known as terrorist threat) is a threat of violence, threat to hurt, injure or kill a person or family members or others close to the person complaining with the intent of intimidating or frightening them.

Examples of terrorist or criminal threats include:

  • Threatening to hurt your girlfriend, or a member of her family.
  • Threatening to hurt your ex-wife’s new boyfriend.
  • Threatening harm or injury to a neighbor.

The threat may be made personally, in writing, electronically, or by phone. It can be made against an individual, a group of people, or a public building or work place.

Criminal Threats Law in California

California Penal Code section 422 may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Criminal or terrorist threats are taken very seriously by California law enforcement and county prosecutors. To be convicted of a criminal threat charge, the prosecuting attorney must prove the following five elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The accused willfully threatened to unlawfully kill or unlawfully inflict great bodily injury on another person.
  • The accused made the threat with the specific intent that it be taken as a threat.
  • The threat is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey a gravity of purpose and the immediate prospect of execution (the person was very clear and specific about carrying out the threat).
  • The threat actually caused sustained fear in the victim (for “a period of time that extends beyond what is momentary, fleeting, or transitory”).
  • The sustained fear was reasonable.

Terrorist and Criminal Threats Penalties

California criminal threat cases may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending upon the seriousness of the threat and its consequences as well as the discretion of the prosecutor. The punishment will vary and may include actual jail time, prison time, parole or probation, and fines. As well, a person may lose their right to vote or own a gun.

Felony: In California a terrorist or criminal threat is punishable by up to three years in state prison. Criminal or terrorist threats are considered a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law.

Misdemeanor: the court can impose probation (informal) with or without jail time, community service, physical labor, counseling, restitution (paying the victim), fines ($200 to $2,000), and “stay-away” orders. A conviction also results in the person having a permanent criminal record.

Defending a Terrorist and Criminal Threats Charge

If you’ve been arrested for making a criminal or terrorist threat, you should immediately contact a qualified, local attorney who specializes in these types of cases. There is a fine line between exercising one’s First Amendment right to speak freely and a criminal threat which may be punished. The investigating officer (Detective or Inspector), prosecutor, and court will weigh the evidence against the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Terrorist Threats Attorney in San Francisco

California criminal defense attorney Robert Tayac is an experienced and skilled San Francisco criminal defense lawyer who provides the highest quality defense against allegations of criminal or terrorist threats.