Criminal Threats

criminal threatsThe California Law on Criminal Threats

The crime of making criminal threats is committed when an individual verbally or through actions poses a threat of immediate harm upon another resulting in fear to be instilled upon the victim. Sec 422 of the California Penal Code stipulates that these acts are considered illegal and must be penalized.


The penalty for the crime of making a criminal threat is penalized with imprisonment of up to three (3) years in state prison. Another penalty is registration of the act as a strike under the Three Strikes Law of California.

The elements of the crime of making criminal threats is as follows

  • There were willful threats made by the accused to unlawfully kill or inflict great bodily injury upon another person;
  • The threat was orally made or done through an electronic communication device;
  • The said statement was understood as a threat and message was intentionally sent to the victim;
  • The threat was clear, immediate, unconditional and specific with the intent to make the victim understand that the threat would be carried out;
  • The threat caused the victim to be in a state of fear for their safety or their immediate family's safety;
  • The fear from said threat was reasonable under the circumstances of the case;

If the threat is carried out, then this crime is absorbed by the felony criminal act when the threat is done. In the absence of any further acts aside from the threat, the accused would be liable for the threat made.