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Los Angeles Criminal Threats Defense Attorneys

The Consequences of a Threat

While you might assume that anything you say is protected under the First Amendment, California has exceptions for threats of a criminal nature. Once called “terrorist threats,” criminal threats are still punished by our courts, which can apply to cases of domestic violence as well. A conviction can also lead to a strike under California’s Three Strike Law, demonstrating the severity of this crime.

If your or someone you love has been charged with making criminal threats in Los Angeles, you need to work with a skilled defense team. At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we are well-versed at defending clients in high-profile, contentious criminal cases. We know that your reputation is on the line, and we will use all of our expertise to fight on your behalf. Do not let the prosecution pressure you into a plea deal. Call us at (213) 688-0460 to get an expert opinion from a Los Angeles criminal threats defense lawyer.

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California’s Law on Criminal Threats

California Penal Code 422 PC refers to when a defendant:

  • Threatens to willfully kill or seriously injure another person;
  • With the intention that his or her words will be taken as a threat;
  • And the defendant is capable of fulfilling the threat; and
  • The victim reasonably feared for his or her safety or the safety of his or her immediate family members.

Under state law, this can apply to statements made in writing, verbally, or electronically, such as through emails, direct messages, and social media posts. The District Attorney may review your online messages and public posts to collect evidence against you and may even subpoena your records, such as text messages and social media profiles.

After such an invasive investigation, the prosecution must show that the threat was genuine, meaning you both intended to fulfill the threat and were capable of carrying it out. In addition, the victim must also have perceived your words as a genuine threat and reasonably feared for his or her life.

However, the broad nature of this law means it can apply to several different situations. It is often charged in accordance with domestic violence, but can also be applied other violent crimes like robbery, assault, and gang crimes. At one point, this charge was known as terrorist threats in California.

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When Are Threats a Federal Crime?

Alongside a state charge, making a criminal threat may be a federal crime if it involved a government official, but this only applies in certain scenarios. Under 18 U.S. Code Chapter 41, threats made against the President, successors to the President, and threats against former Presidents can all be prosecuted as federal criminal threat charges. A defendant can also be charged with a federal crime for mailing threatening messages through the U.S. Postal Services under 18 U.S. Code § 876.

Federal charges not only come with hefty penalties, but also in-depth investigations by federal agencies, damage to a reputation, and an extensive trial. Outside of a federal court, you may be charged with California Penal Code 76 for making a criminal threat against a public official under state law.

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Penalties for Penal Code 422

Criminal threats are treated as wobblers in California, which means your case may be treated as a misdemeanor or felony. The difference will depend on the nature of your charges and your criminal record. Previous charges of assault, battery, domestic violence, or other threats can all result in a felony.

If this is your first offense, then a misdemeanor conviction can lead to:

  • Up to one year in county jail;
  • A maximum $1,000 fine; and/or
  • Misdemeanor probation.

If your charge is handled as a felony, then you can be punished with:

  • Up to three years in state prison;
  • A maximum $10,000 fine; and/or
  • Felony probation.

In either case, criminal threats can result in a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. After you’ve been convicted, this law requires that you serve at least 85% of your sentence. Making threats is also considered a crime of moral turpitude, which means it can affect your immigration status, revoking your visa or Green Card.

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Defend Your Right to Free Speech

If you have been accused of making a criminal threat, you require a thorough defense strategy to avoid the full consequences of a conviction. With your reputation and future on the line, you should only trust your case to the trial attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP. We can stand up for you in criminal court by arguing that:

  • The accusations against you are false, and you never threatened the victim.
  • Your words were taken out of context, and you had no intention of fulfilling the threat.
  • You were not capable of fulfilling the threat.
  • The victim did not reasonably fear your threats.
  • Your words were protected as free speech.

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Work With a Dedicated Los Angeles Criminal Threats Defense Lawyer

Our Los Angeles violent crime defense attorneys have decades of experience in fighting serious felony crimes. We understand the complexities of these laws and know how to launch thorough defenses for our clients. Whether your charges are filed in state or federal court, we can provide the strong legal representation you need during this difficult time. Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP online or call us at (213) 688-0460 for a free, confidential consultation.

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Additional Information

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Phone: (213) 688-0460
Fax: (213) 624-1942

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