Is Criminal Threats a Misdemeanor or a Felony in California? (PC 422)
You commit the crime of making criminal threats under California Penal Code Section 422 if you willfully communicate a threat to cause another person great bodily injury or death.
To be convicted of criminal threats, the prosecution must prove all of the following elements of the crime:
- You willfully threatened another person with the intent of seriously injuring or killing that person
- The threat was made verbally, in writing or through electronic communication
- You meant for your statement to be understood as a threat, regardless of if you were able to or intended to carry the threat out
- You had the present ability to carry out the threat
- A reasonable person would have feared for his or her own safety or the safety of his or her immediate family if you made the threat to him or her
If you are accused of making criminal threats, you may be wondering if you face misdemeanor or felony charges. Let’s explore how criminal threats is charged under PC 422.
Criminal Threats is a Wobbler Offense
The crime of making criminal threats is a “wobbler” offense, which is a crime that can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony in California.
Thus, if you are accused of making criminal threats, it will be up to the prosecution to decide whether to charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor. How you are charged will be based upon the specific circumstances of your case and your prior criminal history, if any.
There is a major difference between being charged with a misdemeanor criminal threats charge as opposed to a felony charge for a violation of Penal Code Section 422.
Misdemeanor Criminal Threats vs. Felony Criminal Threats
If the prosecution decides that the criminal threat you made was not serious enough to be considered a serious or violent crime, you will likely face misdemeanor criminal threats charges. A misdemeanor criminal threat conviction carries a sentence of up to 364 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
A serious criminal threat will likely be charged as a felony. Felony criminal threats is punishable by up to three years in state prison and fines of up to $10,000.
In addition, a felony criminal threat conviction is considered a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes law. If you have a prior strike, your sentence for making a criminal threat could be doubled. If it is your third strike, you face 25 years to life in prison.
You should contact an experienced criminal threats attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately if you or someone you love has been accused of making criminal threats.
Contact the Criminal Threats Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Criminal threats is a serious crime that carries consequences that could impact you for the rest of your life. That is why you should call an experienced criminal threats attorney now if you are accused of making criminal threats.
At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled criminal attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing criminal threats charges for more than 40 years. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal threats attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.
Call our office today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.