Criminal Threats Penal Code section 422.


The Law on Penal Code 422 Violations

The District Attorney must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction for Penal Code section 422:

  1.  The defendant willfully threatened to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily injury to the alleged victim,
  2. The defendant made the treat with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of electronic communication device, be taken as a threat.
  3. The defendant may or may not have had an intent of actually carrying out the threat.
  4. The threatening statement on its face, and under the circumstances in which it was made, was so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the Victim a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution.
  5. The threatening statement caused the alleged victim to reasonably be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family's safety.

In deciding whether a threat was sufficiently clear, immediate, unconditional, and specific, consider the words themselves, as well as the
surrounding circumstances. Someone who intends that a statement be understood as a threat does not have to actually intend to carry out the threatened act. Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm. Sustained fear means fear for a period of time that is more than momentary, fleeting, or transitory.

An immediate ability to carry out the threat is not required. An electronic communication device includes, but is not limited to: a telephone, cellular telephone, pager, computer, video recorder, or fax machine. Immediate family means (a) any spouse, parents, and children; (b) any grandchildren, grandparents, brothers and sisters related by blood or marriage; or (c) any person who regularly lives in the other person’s household [or who regularly lived there within the prior six months


Consequences of a Penal Code 422 conviction:

This crime wobbles down so it can be a misdemeanor.  The maximum exposure as a felony is sixteen months, two, or three years in state prison if probation is not granted.  A felony conviction of this crime is a strike, meaning it classified by the legislature as a serious felony and it can be used to double future sentences.  A felony conviction of Penal Code 422 will make the defendant ineligible for possessing firearms, voting, jury service, and public office.