Criminal Threats



I had a colleague who used to say “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will get you prison” and that is California penal code section 422 which is criminal threats. It actually used to be called terrorist threats. It requires a specific threat. It doesn’t have to be “I’m going to kill you” but its got to imply some type of bodily harm to you or members of your family or people close to you. It has to be specific it has to be unequivocal it has to be close in time meaning this isn’t going to happen six months from now or a year from now it’s going to happen now and the person has to have the present ability to carry it out and those cases are actually hard to prove just on those elements and I’ve tried a number of them and I’ve had good success with them just proving that the person wasn’t anywhere near the person or the defendant wasn’t anywhere near the victim and didn’t know where they were, didn’t have the ability to find them. There are defenses that the victim would’ve never taken seriously, a threat from that particular person. Those can become attempts. There is equivocality meaning that the threat isn’t necessarily so specific, so plain that it is a threat. It could something like as the New York mafia likes to say “Oh, well, it’d be a shame if something happened to that” and that could be taken as a threat under certain context but it’s not an unequivocal threat, which is why its an effective thing to say. Criminal threat cases are cases that can be really litigated well and wanted either a preliminary hearing or a trial.

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