Why making criminal threats is a serious crime.


If you have been threatened by someone, they may have done more than scared you, upset you or intimidated you – they may have committed a crime. Did you know that making a threat can be a serious crime in California?

What California law addresses criminal threats?

California’s Penal Code Section 422(a) states that using words to threaten physical violence against another person is punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the unique circumstances and facts of each case. The form of the threat does not matter – whether it is made in person or via email or even text message, the consequence is the same.

Many people make threats they do not intend to follow through on. In the heat of a fight, or in a moment of anger, some individuals may make threats they otherwise would not. The problem is though, that even if you make threats just at the apex of a fight, you may be charged for those threats long after the fight has simmered away.

If you just make a threat, you may not automatically be in danger of prosecution – although it’s certainly best to avoid making threats, no matter how angry you may be. In order to prove a case for criminal threatening, the prosecutor will have to prove a number of things, and must prove them beyond a reasonable doubt which is a high legal standard. The prosecutor will need to prove that the defendant threatened great bodily injury to the alleged victim or the victim’s immediate family, that the defendant made the threat either orally, in writing, or by electronic communication, that the alleged threat was made clearly and so specifically that the alleged victim had a reasonable belief that the threat would be carried out, and that the threat caused the alleged victim to fear for their own safety or the safety of their immediate family.

Criminal threatening charges are a serious matter, and something you will not want to try to navigate alone. The criminal justice system is complex, and a plea to or conviction on criminal threatening charges can have long and lasting impacts in every realm of your life – from your professional career to prospective romantic relationships and more.

If you are facing criminal threatening charges in California, contact the Kosnett law firm today to secure your rights under the law.

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