Criminal Threats – California Penal Code 422 PC
A criminal threat occurs when someone “willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person” with the specific intent that it be taken as a threat. (California Penal Code section 422). It doesn’t matter that the person making the threat has no intention of actually carrying it out. The threat can be made verbally, in writing, or by electronic communication such as text messages, e-mail or Facebook posts.
The threat must be “unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific,” such that the person threatened reasonably fears for his safety or the safety of his immediate family.
An example of criminal threats would be two people at a party, where one of them pulls out a knife and yells to the other person that he is going to cut her. Regardless of whether the man with the knife plans to injure the woman, as long as he is intends to scare her and she fears for her safety, the crime of criminal threat occurred.
Making a criminal threat can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. As a misdemeanor, it can be punished by up to a year in jail. As a felony, you can face up to three years in prison. If the crime is charged as a felony and the person making the threat used a gun, an additional year in prison will be added to the sentence.