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PC 422: Criminal Threats

The concept of a cyber attack on a computer network. Cyber crime and internet privacy hacking.

California Penal Code 422 deals with criminal threats, also sometimes called terroristic threats. As you might imagine, law enforcement and the courts take these charges very seriously, and a person who is convicted of making criminal threats against another person, a company such as a former employer, or a government agency, can face serious consequences in the form of fines, jail time and other penalties.

Below is a brief overview of PC 422, including the elements of the offense that must be proven to convict, the penalties upon conviction, and possible defenses to the crime that might be available. For personalized legal guidance in San Bernardino County, contact the Law Offices of John D. Lueck, APC, in Rancho Cucamonga for a consultation.

What Constitutes a Criminal Threat under Penal Code 422?

Penal Code 422 is a California law that lays out the legal framework for what constitutes a criminal threat in the state. A criminal threat, under this penal code section, involves several key elements:

  1. The Threat: The defendant must willfully communicate a threat to kill or cause great bodily injury to another person.

  2. Specific Intent: The threat must be made with the specific intent that the statement is to be taken as a threat. Note that the defendant need not intend to carry out the threat to be convicted of this offense.

  3. Clarity and Immediacy: The threat must be clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific enough that it communicates to the victim that it is a serious threat.

  4. Reasonable Fear: The victim must reasonably be in sustained fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family.

  5. Communication: The threat can be communicated verbally, in writing, or through electronic means.

Penalties for Conviction of PC 422

PC 422 is a “wobbler,” meaning prosecutors have the discretion to charge the offense as either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty can be a sentence of up to one year in the county jail. As a felony, PC 422 can be punished by up to four years in state prison. Felony PC 422 is also a “strike offense,” meaning it counts toward California’s three-strikes law which can lead to a life sentence. Also, if convicted you would be required to serve out 85% of your sentence. In the case of a wobbler crime, a skilled defense attorney can often keep the charges in the misdemeanor category to help defendants avoid the most serious consequences of a felony conviction.

A related section of the law, PC 422.1, deals with the felony offense of phoning in bomb threats. Under 422.1, a person convicted of making such threats will be required to pay full restitution for the costs incurred in an emergency response or other property damage incurred while responding to the threat, in addition to any fine or prison sentence.

Another related offense found inCalifornia Penal Code Section 422.4 focuses on the protection of academic researchers and their immediate family members from threats of violence. The law makes it a misdemeanor to publish information that describes or depicts an academic researcher or their immediate family member, or their whereabouts, with the intent that this information be used by someone else to commit a violent crime against them. The published information must be likely to lead to the imminent commission of such a crime. The punishment for this offense can include imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, a fine of up to one thousand dollars, or both.

Defenses Against Charges of Making Criminal Threats

In cases involving charges under PC 422, several defenses can be considered:

  1. Lack of Specific Intent: If the accused did not intend for the statement to be taken as a threat, this could be a valid defense.

  2. Ambiguity of the Threat: If the threat is vague or not immediate, it may not meet the legal criteria of a criminal threat.

  3. Absence of Fear or Unreasonable Fear: If the alleged victim was not actually in fear, or if their fear was not reasonable, this could negate the charges.

  4. False Accusations: In some cases, defendants may be wrongly accused based on misunderstandings or false allegations.

  5. Freedom of Speech: In certain circumstances, what might be perceived as a threat could be a form of protected speech, though this is a complex area that requires careful legal examination.

The Role of a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer in Prosecutions Under PC 422

Navigating the complexities of Penal Code 422 requires an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the nuances of California law. At the Law Offices of John D. Lueck, APC, our expertise in criminal defense law in San Bernardino County positions us to provide robust representation for individuals facing charges under PC 422. We work diligently to analyze every aspect of the case, from scrutinizing the intent and nature of the threat to evaluating the credibility of the alleged victim’s fear.

Contact the Law Offices of John D. Lueck, APC, for Defense Against Charges of Making Criminal Threats

Understanding California Penal Code 422 is crucial for anyone facing charges of making criminal threats. With serious implications and potential penalties, it’s essential to have a knowledgeable attorney who can provide a strong defense. If you or a loved one is facing such charges in San Bernardino County, reach out to the Law Offices of John D. Lueck, APC, in Rancho Cucamonga. We are committed to protecting your rights and navigating you through the complexities of the legal system with professional excellence.Call the Law Offices of John D. Lueck, APC, at 909-484-1963 for a consultation. You can also reach attorney John Lueck directly on his cell phone (preferred) at 909-646-2736.

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