Los Angeles Criminal Threats Attorney

Criminal lawyer in Los Angeles, CA

Have you been arrested for criminal threats in Los Angeles, CA? It can be easy for emotions to run too high during a verbal argument and lead to serious criminal charges. Whether you have been falsely accused or you did not mean words said in anger, you face criminal charges with stiff penalties.

At The Rodriguez Law Group, we have represented clients facing criminal charges for more than 20 years. Contact our law office today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles criminal threats attorney who can help.

How The Rodriguez Law Group Can Help if You’re Arrested for Criminal Threats

At The Rodriguez Law Group, we understand how scary a criminal threat charge can be. You may have let your anger get the best of you in an argument and made threats you did not mean. You may be falsely accused of threatening someone. You may have no criminal record at all, but now you are facing a potentially serious violent offense.

The prosecutor is unlikely to be sympathetic, but a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at The Rodriguez Law Group will be on your side to defend you. Founding attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez uses his 13 years of experience as Senior Deputy District Attorney to craft a solid defense to your charges. He has earned a 10.0 Superb AVVO rating and has more than 20 years of experience representing clients as a defense attorney.

When you choose The Rodriguez Law Group to represent you, we will:

  • Protect your legal rights and offer sound legal advice
  • Investigate your case to gather positive evidence and identify the victim’s motives for false accusations
  • Determine if your constitutional rights were violated
  • Assess any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you
  • Seek reduced charges or a dismissal of your charges
  • Fight for alternative sentencing and penalties to avoid a strike offense
  • Present a persuasive defense to a jury if your case goes to court

Contact our law office in Los Angeles, California, today to schedule a free consultation. Our Los Angeles criminal threats lawyers will help you explore your best defense options.

What Are Criminal Threats in California?

Under California Penal Code Section 422, criminal threats (formerly known as terrorist threats) are defined as threats that make someone else fear great bodily injury or death.

It covers verbal threats and threats in any type of communication like email, text, or writing.

The First Amendment grants all U.S. citizens freedom of speech, but it does not cover threats of violence that cause someone else to fear for their life or safety.

Penal Code Section 422 is often used in connection with domestic violence cases, but it may cover many situations. For example, someone can be charged with making criminal threats after a heated argument with a neighbor, a stranger at a bar, a store employee, or online. It covers threats directed toward a victim and threats to third parties or family members if the intent is if they intend injury.

Making a criminal threat is a wobbler offense in California. This means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.

To determine whether the offense will be a felony or misdemeanor, many factors may be considered, such as whether:

  • The defendant has a prior criminal record, particularly a conviction for violent crime
  • A prior offense involves the same victim
  • The threats involve domestic violence
  • The defendant threatened to kill the victim or commit a very serious violent offense
  • The victim suffered sustained fear
  • Threats were in retaliation for calling police
  • The threat seemed credible, specific, and the defendant intended to follow through

Meanwhile, threats to simply assault someone may be a misdemeanor.

What Are the Penalties for Criminal Threats in Los Angeles, California?

Even if you did not intend to follow through on a threat, you can still face harsh penalties if convicted.

When charged as a misdemeanor, criminal threats are punishable by:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Summary or informal probation
  • Mandatory anger management program
  • Loss of gun ownership rights
  • Loss of professional license and credentials
  • Restraining order to protect the victim

The penalties are much more serious for a felony criminal threats charge. This can be punishable by:

  • Up to 3 years in state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Formal probation
  • Mandatory anger management classes
  • Restraining order
  • Strike under the Three Strikes Law

A felony criminal threats conviction can also result in a strike under the Three Strikes Law in California. Under the Three Strikes Law, habitual offenders can face a mandatory life sentence for three felony convictions, i.e. three strikes. If you have a prior serious felony or violent felony conviction, this law can also double the prison sentence of another felony conviction.

If convicted of a strike offense, you will also be required to complete at least 85% of your sentence before you can qualify for an early release.

Under this law, a strike is any conviction for a violent felony under PC 667.5 or a serious felony under PC 1192.7(c). This can include felony criminal threats and murder, rape, kidnapping, carjacking, burglary, grand theft with a firearm, and robbery.

In addition to being a strike offense, criminal threats are classified as a crime of “moral turpitude.” This can result in a range of consequences that affect your life, such as deportation if you are in the U.S. illegally or the loss of a professional license.

What Defenses Are Available in a Criminal Threats Case in Los Angeles, CA?

There are many possible defenses available when you are accused of making criminal threats. We will fight for the best possible outcome, such as reduced charges, an acquittal, dismissed charges, or alternative sentencing options.

The prosecution has the burden of proving several elements of your criminal threats charge beyond a reasonable doubt, including:

  • You intentionally made threats of death or serious bodily injury to someone else,
  • Your threats were in writing, verbal, or using electronic communication,
  • The threats were intended to be received as a threat,
  • The threat was specific, unconditional, and immediate enough under the circumstances to convey it could happen, and
  • The threat caused the victim to have reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of someone else

There are many ways we may build a defense depending on your case circumstances, such as:

  • The threat was vague. The prosecution must show you had a specific intent to threaten someone. An ambiguous threat, such as “I’ll get you back for what you did,” is not enough.
  • The victim’s fear of the threat was unreasonable. If the threat was unreasonable or the victim has reason to believe you cannot carry out the threat, it is not a criminal threat. For example, threatening to shoot someone with a missile is unreasonable. A threat to assault or kill someone tomorrow when they are on the other side of the country may also be considered unreasonable.
  • False accusations. These accusations may have been made due to jealousy, anger, or during a heated custody battle.
  • Your threat did not rise to the level of a criminal threat. If you only threatened property damage or slight harm, such as pushing someone, it is not enough to be a criminal threat.
  • The victim’s fear was fleeting and temporary. The prosecution needs to show the victim experienced sustained fear and that it was reasonable.

Because a felony criminal threat charge is a strike offense, it’s crucial to seek experienced legal counsel from a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. Even if this is your third strike, you can fight a mandatory three strikes sentence by seeking to have a prior strike removed through a Romero motion. We can also seek to have a felony criminal threats charge reduced to a misdemeanor.

Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Threats Attorney for a Free Consultation

Do not make the mistake of assuming a criminal threats charge isn’t serious, even if it is charged as a misdemeanor. A conviction can follow you for the rest of your life and have a serious impact on your ability to get a job. If upgraded to a felony, you face a strike, enhanced sentencing, and prison time.

At The Rodriguez Law Group, we will fight to give you the best legal defense possible. We will use our decades of experience to craft a defense and present a persuasive case on your behalf. Contact our law firm today for a free case review with a Los Angeles criminal threats attorney who can help you.

By Ambrosio E. Rodriguez

Last Updated on May 30, 2021