California lists “criminal threats” as a crime, punishable by years in prison. A criminal threat is a difficult crime to fully comprehend in the digital age, when every text and social media post is monitored. If you were simply making a joke, or an unintentional comment regarding something that could be construed as criminal activity, you could find yourself facing steep penalties. If you have been charged with a criminal threat, do not hesitate in contacting an experienced San Jose criminal threats attorney.
Criminal Threats in California
In order for a criminal threat to meet the statutory definition, it must have been spoke, posted, or written, with the intent to be taken as a threat, even if you are unable of fully carrying out the criminal activity. The crime will be completed if the alleged victim feared for his or her safety. Specifically, a prosecutor must be able to prove:
- You willfully threatened to kill or seriously injure another person;
- You intended your verbal or electronic communication to be taken as a threat;
- The threat was so immediate and specific to convey immediate possibility of execution; and
- The threatened individual reasonably feared for their safety (or that of their immediate family).
The following are examples of criminal threats:
- Social media post that students should “watch out” on a certain day;
- Sending an angry email to a person which says you will kill that person (or a relative);
- Threatening to set fire to an ex's house
Threats are made against people on almost a daily basis, especially depending on your level of interaction with strangers. However, it is a matter of sifting through the real versus the perceived threats to determine which threats rise to the level of criminal activity.
Defenses to Criminal Threats
Many of us may say things in a moment of passion without technically meaning to make a severe threat. However, California law may still find this to be a criminal threat, and therefore a San Jose criminal threats attorney will have to work hard to indicate that you lacked the requisite intent to fully commit a criminal threat.
Other defenses may include:
- Vague threats that were not geared toward one person in specific
- The reader or alleged victim was never in fear for their safety, nor could they have reasonably been in fear for their safety
- The threat was not spoken or conveyed, but was only based on a gesture
Criminal threats are often prosecuted as misdemeanor offenses, although in unique circumstances the crime may be elevated to a felony offense. It is important to speak with a San Jose criminal attorney as soon as possible after your arrest for a criminal threat, especially if you have prior misdemeanor convictions which could lead to a felony charge. Additionally, making the threat with a deadly weapon may also lead to a felony conviction. A felony conviction may lead to years in prison and will be one out of the “three strikes” California allows.
Ahmed and Sukaram Law | San Jose Criminal Threats Attorney
If you have been charged with the crime of making a criminal threat, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys of Ahmed and Sukaram. Our attorneys have years of experience in handling all types of criminal offenses, including domestic violence, juvenile offenses, and criminal threats. We will carefully examine the facts of your case in building our defense, including a careful analysis of whether the alleged threat rose to the level of a criminal threat. Contact our San Jose office today for your initial free consultation.