Whenever an individual verbally threatens immediate harm to a person, which is intended to cause fear upon that person and causes that person to reasonably be placed in fear by the threat, the crime of Criminal Threats has occurred.
Criminal Threats can be prosecuted as a Felony or a Misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the case. When prosecuted as a Felony, Criminal Threats is a serious Felony, which is punishable as a Strike offense under the California Three Strikes Law.
Elements of a Criminal Threats charge:
Criminal Threats must be proven by all of the following elements:
Intentional Statement of a Threat – A statement has been intentionally conveyed by the Defendant.
The statement caused fear – The statement conveyed by the Defendant must have caused fear to the alleged victim.
The Criminal Threat was intended to be understood as a threat – The intention is for the individual to understand that the statement is a threat.
The Criminal Threat can be verbal or written – The threat can be conveyed either verbally or in writing and must be communicated to the alleged victim.
The alleged victim’s fear of the threat must be reasonable – The fear coming from the threat is reasonable.
The Criminal Threat must be clear and capable of being carried out Immediately – The threat must be so apparent, abrupt, unrestricted, and specific that it shows a serious intention to cause harm.
Punishment for Criminal Threats:
A Felony Criminal Threats conviction is punishable by up to three years in State Prison and a $10,000 fine.
A Misdemeanor Criminal Threats conviction is punishable by up to 1 year in County Jail and a $1,000 fine.
Defenses to Criminal Threats Charges by your Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
The following defenses can be argued by your Criminal Defense Attorney to defend your Criminal Threats case.
Lack of Clarity or Immediacy
Lack of Intent
Lack of Reasonable Fear by the Alleged Victim
In order to obtain either a dismissal or a reduction of the harsh penalties, arising from a Criminal Threats charge, it is crucial for the Defendant to hire the right Criminal Defense Attorney immediately.