Citizens of the U.S. are constitutionally guaranteed the right to free speech. However, this right does not mean you can say whatever you want. For example, individuals are not allowed to:
- Make false statements of fact
- Incite others to imminent lawless action
- Make criminal threats
In California, individuals can be prosecuted under California Penal Code Section 422: Criminal Threats for frightening or threatening others. Learn more about this charge, possible penalties, and legal defenses with the Simmrin Law Group.
PC 422: The Legal Definition
Individuals in California can be charged with making criminal threats if they threaten another person with harm or acts of violence. Criminal threats can be delivered through electronic means, in written form, or orally and must be specific. Individuals who violate PC 422 threaten to cause someone else great bodily injury or to kill them.
The threat must be enough to make the victim fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family. Finally, individuals are only guilty of criminal threats if a reasonable person is frightened by what they say. Individuals could be convicted under PC 422 even if they did not plan to harm or kill another person.
Merely believably threatening another person can lead to a conviction under PC 422. Be sure you speak with an experienced California criminal defense lawyer from the Simmrin Law Group as soon as possible when faced with a charge of criminal threats. The sooner you secure legal representation, the more time the lawyer will have to build a defense to the charges on your behalf.
PC 422: Examples of Criminal Threats
Some people are unsure exactly what qualifies as a criminal threat in California. Check out these examples to strengthen your understanding of PC 422:
- A man and a woman recently broke up. The man calls the woman and tells her he will use the key to her apartment to get in and beat her severely while she is sleeping. She knows he has a temper, and the threat he makes is very specific. She is reasonably afraid for her well-being and panics. He could be charged under PC 422.
- A man loses his job. He feels he was treated unfairly by his boss. In a rage, he sends a letter promising to wait in the parking lot to kill his former employer. His employer believes the letter and begins fearing for his life. The man has made a criminal threat.
- A woman finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her. She tracks the other woman online and sends her a furious e-mail, making vague threats to blow off steam. The other woman does not believe she is in danger and laughs the entire thing off. Therefore, this is not an example of making a criminal threat.
Criminal threats can happen in many different ways. Let a criminal defense lawyer review your case today to determine if the charges against you hold any merit. Call the Simmrin Law Group today to schedule an appointment with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
PC 422: Penalties for a Conviction
The court system in Los Angeles can charge individuals with a misdemeanor or a felony for PC 422. Individuals convicted of a misdemeanor may be sent to jail for up to one year.
A felony conviction for making criminal threats can lead to four years in prison. Individuals who use a weapon while making a threat may have one year added to their sentence. Have a criminal defense attorney from the Simmrin Law Group review your case today.
Note that any legal penalties may be increased if an individual is charged with additional criminal acts tied to PC 422. In some cases, individuals may make criminal threats that involve:
- California Penal Code §243(e)(1): Domestic Violence
- California Penal Code §417: Brandishing a Weapon or a Firearm
PC 422: Possible Defenses for Criminal Charges
Individuals accused of making criminal threats can contact a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles for help. A professional criminal defense lawyer can assess the facts surrounding any PC 422 charge. Depending on your specific situation, your lawyer could build a case by showing the threat:
- Would not cause a reasonable person to fear
- Was ambiguous and vague
- Did not result in an immediate risk
- Did not frighten the victim
These defenses can be difficult to build on your own. Contacting a criminal defense lawyer immediately after a PC 422 charge can increase your odds of beating accusations related to criminal threats.
PC 422: You Can Get Professional Legal Help Today
Individuals who are accused of making a criminal threat can end up facing misdemeanor or felony charges. Do not risk your future by trying to handle a criminal threat accusation alone.
The legal professionals at the Simmrin Law Group can help you if you are charged under California Penal Code Section 422: Criminal Threats.
You can contact us for a free consultation by calling our office or completing our online contact form. A criminal defense lawyer near me in California can make a big difference in fighting criminal threats charges compared to trying to represent yourself in court.