Think before you send that angry text to your ex, threatening to shoot him. Getting convicted of making criminal threats (California Penal Code 422) is no joke. Under California’s three strikes law, you must serve at least 85% of a criminal threats conviction. Criminal threats is a wobbler offense, so the prosecution has the choice to treat it as a felony. David Lehr Law can help you fight a criminal threats charge.

422 Criminal Threats

The criteria for criminal threats are that the victim experienced sustained and reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury because of a threat that you expressed in speech or in writing. You can still be convicted of making criminal threats even if you were not capable of acting on the threat, such as if you threatened to shoot your ex, but you do not have a gun. You can even be convicted if you never intended to carry out the threat.

How specific and actionable a threat is can be a matter of debate, as can how reasonable the victim’s fear is. If you are charged with criminal threats, your domestic violence defense lawyer can make the case that you did not make the threats or the alleged victim should not have taken them seriously. Here are some examples:

  • Depending on context, saying something as vague as, “you’d better watch your back” could be a criminal threat.
  • If you made the threat in writing or by email or text, you can’t deny that you said it, but you can deny that you meant it.
  • Simply making a threatening gesture, like shaking your fist or pointing your finger like a gun, is not a criminal threat.
  • You cannot be convicted of criminal threats if the victim’s fear was short-lived and they quickly realized you couldn’t harm them.
  • You might be able to argue that you made the threat as a joke, but whether the jury believes you will depend on other factors.

If you threaten your spouse, partner or ex verbally or through electronic communications such as text message, you might have other legal problems to worry about, even if you do not get criminal charges for making criminal threats.  Your partner can request a restraining order against you, and if you have children together, the court can have tight control over your interactions with your kids. Years could go by before the court lets you have unsupervised parenting time again.

If you get charged with making criminal threats, with or without other domestic violence charges, do not panic. You are innocent until proven guilty. Your Ventura, California criminal defense lawyer can help you get acquitted or get the charges reduced or dropped, as in the following scenarios:

  • If you can show that your ex-partner has ulterior motives in making the accusations, this can create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors about your guilt.
  • Making criminal threats is a wobbler offense, and your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution in order to have it charged as a misdemeanor instead of as a felony.
  • If the police had no right to search the device where you sent the threatening message to your ex, your lawyer may be able to get the evidence suppressed or the charges dropped.

Remember that you have the right not to answer any questions from police or investigators unless your lawyer is present. The criminal defense lawyers at David Lehr Law will be there for you at every step of the way.

If you have been charged with 

making criminal threats, call 805-477-0070. 

We can provide you with a free case review.

The Law Offices of David Lehr provides representation to defendants in criminal cases related to domestic violence, criminal threats, and other offenses. This web page is for information only and does not predict the outcome of your case or constitute an attorney-client relationship. To get honest, high-quality legal representation, contact the Ventura, California criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of David Lehr. No reputable lawyer will claim to be able to guarantee an acquittal or a sentence that does not include incarceration.

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