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What Type of Crime Is a Verbal Threat?

Verbal threats are a type of crime in which one person threatens another individual with immediate physical harm. In California, this offense is referred to as a criminal threat and is committed when a person uses verbal, electronic, or written communication to state their intention to cause great bodily injury or death to another.

Definition of Criminal Threats

According to the elements of Penal Code 422(a) PC, the individual who makes the threat does not actually have to intend on carrying out the act; merely making the threat and having the means to take action could be a violation of the law. Additionally, the threat does not have to be made directly against the individual; threatening to harm someone else’s family member – spouse, parent, child, or blood relative – is also considered unlawful under this statute.

The victim must also fear for their own safety, or that of their family’s, as a result of the threat. The fear must be actual and reasonable. For example, if a person threatens another individual, but the individual laughs it off as a joke, it is possible they did not feel actual fear.

Potential Conviction Penalties

Violators can be charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor. If convicted of a misdemeanor, they face up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If convicted of a felony, they could spend up to 3 years in state prison and face a fine of up to $10,000. The penalties could increase if the individual made the threat while in possession of a dangerous weapon.

Contact Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC for a Free Consultation

If you were charged with a state crime, such as making a criminal threat, it is imperative to have a skilled attorney on your side to fight the charges. Our team has over 100 years of combined legal experience, and we know how to develop effective defense strategies. We have successfully gotten charges dropped or dismissed, and we are ready to do the same for you.

To schedule your free consultation, call us at (949) 251-0330 or contact us online.