Regardless of your intent to follow through with a threat, making a threat to injure or kill another person or group of people is illegal in the state of California. Posting it on a Facebook page, sending it in the mail, or saying it to someone in person are all criminal acts. If a prosecutor can prove that verbal or written communication was intended as a threat to harm another and that the individual feared for his or her safety, you could face a misdemeanor or a felony charge.
Those convicted of a criminal threat charge could face a strike under California’s three strikes rule as well as prison time without ever causing any physical harm. To illustrate the seriousness of such intimidations, here are some examples of what might be construed as a criminal threat:
If you said something off the cuff, however, and it was not intended as a threat, you may not be held liable for that statement as an immediate or dangerous threat. What makes these cases so complex is the potential for ambiguity. Intent, understanding, words, and timing all play a role in whether a comment or action is, in fact, a criminal threat.
At the Law Offices of Graham Donath, APC, we start every criminal threat case by sitting down with our clients and gaining a clear understanding of the events that transpired. We examine any record of the interaction as well as circumstantial evidence that may affect the outcome of the case. Often, we discover the perceived threat was:
It is also possible that the threat never occurred or was never was intended to be viewed as a threat. For a criminal threat claim to hold up in court, the prosecution has to prove that the fear caused by the aggressor was apparent, reasonable, and lasted for a significant amount of time. Telling someone to watch his or her back is not a criminal threat unless there is sufficient context to prove otherwise. The plausibility of a threat is also taken into consideration. For instance, if someone threatens a drone strike on another’s home, that claim is likely non-actionable.
A criminal threat charge is not a light matter defendants can shrug off. The charge comes with a real threat of jail or prison time and significant fines. While they are difficult for the prosecution to prove, many threat cases involve written or recorded interactions that can be difficult to evaluate in the proper context. Without an experienced criminal defense attorney, an unfounded criminal threat case may result in harsh penalties.
Our team at the Law Offices of Graham Donath, APC, may be able to have the charges against you dropped or reduced successfully. There are a number of defense strategies we can use to keep you from facing sentencing for a crime that never existed. Let us help you protect your life and future from unsubstantiated claims of criminal threat. Get started by calling our Riverside office any time for more information.