To be found guilty of criminal threats under PC 422 the District Attorney must prove that the Defendant did all of the following:
- Willfully made a statement that threatened to kill or cause great bodily injury to another person (victim), and
- Communicated the statement to the victim and intended that the statement be understood by the victim as a threat to the victim, and
- The statement was clear, unconditional, and specific, and
- The defendant intended that the threat was to be carried out immediately, and
- The defendant had the apparent ability to carry out the threat immediately, and
- The threatening statement actually caused the victim to be in reasonable fear for his or her own safety or the safety of his immediate family.
Sentence & Penatly for PC 422
Criminal Threats is considered a wobbler in California. A wobbler is a crime that may be charge as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Both misdemeanor and felony criminal threats charges are filed under PC 422.
When PC 422 is charged as a misdemeanor, the Defendant may face up to one year in a county jail. When PC 422 is charged as a felony, the Defendant may face up to three years in state prison.
Felony Criminal Threats is considered a "Strike" under California "Three Strikes Law." However, misdemeanor criminal threats is not considered a strike.
PC 422 is a fifty percent crime. This means that if the defendant is sentenced to jail or prison the defendant is entitled to two days of jail or prison credit for every day actually served. Probation, without a jail or prison sentence, is available in many cases depending on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history. In fact, whether or not the District Attorney charges misdemeanor or felony charges in the first place largely depends on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history.
In some cases of felony criminal threats charges it may be possible to have the judge reduce the charges to a misdemeanor, even if the District Attorney objects to the judge's re-classification.
Defense to PC 422 (Criminal Threats)
Defenses to Criminal threats include, but are not limited to,
- A violation of the statute of limitations (3 years),
- Insufficient evidence to prove the victim was placed in reasonable fear
- Insufficient evidence that the Defendant intended his threats to be communicated to the victim
- Improper police procedure, illegal evidence, coerced confessions
- Use of illegal recordings to gain evidence
Note: The fact that the Defendant would not have been able to carry out the specific threat that was made to the victim is not a defense to a Criminal Threats charge under PC 422.
If you have been charged with criminal threats, or PC 422 (also filed under PC 422(a)), contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense attorneys dedicate 100% of their practice to criminal defense and initial consultations are provided at no cost to the accused. Call today!
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PC 422(a): Criminal Threats
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Crimes Related to PC 422 (Criminal Threats)
- Attempted Criminal Threats PC 664/422
- Assault w/Deadly Weapon PC 245