While the First Amendment gives you freedom of speech, the law limits just how far you can exercise it. Threatening to kill another person is against the legislation that protects individuals from harm and violence. And just like most other unlawful acts, the consequences are harsh.
You could have uttered the words out of anger after being provoked by the alleged victim, or they could have accused you falsely. It wouldn’t be fair for you to go to jail or prison or pay hefty fines, yet your intentions were different from what the victim perceived. A Long Beach criminal justice attorney can defend you and give your case the best possible outcome.
What Kinds of Threats Are Punishable in Orange County?
A threat to kill someone meets California’s definition of a criminal threat if:
- You communicated the threat through an electronically transmitted device, in writing, or verbally.
- The threat was unequivocal and specific
- The other person’s fear for their safety and that of their family members was reasonable
These are threats you make with no intentions of actualizing them. If you threaten to blow up a car repair shop and come back with a non-functional grenade, the workers at the shop might be reasonably fearful. It won’t matter that it was an empty threat in most cases – you might still be charged.
These may be defined as threatening to kill someone if a certain condition is or isn’t fulfilled. If there was a likelihood of the threat being executed, you could be convicted for criminal threats. Such threats can also be charged as extortion and carry additional sentencing.
Remember that you can still be charged even if you had no ability to kill them or had no actual intentions of doing it. A skilled and experienced Long Beach criminal threats attorney can challenge the prosecution’s argument and ensure that the case doesn’t end up in a conviction.
Other examples of punishable criminal threats include:
- Texting your ex-spouse saying that you will set their house on fire
- After being fired, calling your former boss telling them to watch his back and that of his other employees\
- Holding a gun and threatening to shoot another person
Is Threatening to Kill a Misdemeanor or a Felony in California?
Undoubtedly, threatening to take someone’s life is a serious offense in Orange County. But it is one of the wobbler crimes under Penal Code 422 PC. This means that, the prosecution might decide to file it as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on your criminal history and other circumstances.
You could be confined in a county jail for a misdemeanor or in state prison for a felony if you are convicted. And if you possessed a deadly or dangerous weapon while making the threat, the usual period of confinement can be extended by up to a year.
Being a “strike” offense, you may not be eligible for release until you serve at least 85% of your sentence. Whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor, it is important to fight to have your charges dropped or reduced with the assistance of a criminal threats attorney in Orange County, CA.
What are the Penalties for Threatening to Kill?
The penalties you get for this offense are dependent on how the prosecution charges you. People convicted of it as a misdemeanor risk:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Up to 12 months in jail
If it’s a felony, the punishment is harsher; more years in confinement and more dollars in fine. You might get:
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Up to three years in prison
One more year could be added to your sentence if you communicated your threat to kill using a dangerous or deadly weapon. Another aspect that can aggravate your punishment is when you make threats:
- Against more than one person
- On more than one occasion
- To pursue different objectives
In the above instances, each incident might carry its own penalty. Also, note that as a felony, threatening to kill is governed by the Three Strikes Law in California. Thus, if you had been charged with a felony before, the threats could be a second strike that can double the usual penalties.
Third strikers are offenders that have at least two other felony convictions. The minimum sentence in such cases is 25 years in prison, and the maximum can be life imprisonment. Also, being a crime of moral turpitude, you risk:
- Being removed or deported if you are an alien and legal immigrant
- Professional discipline if you are a licensed
Can I Escape Being Punished for Threatening to Kill?
A conviction for threatening to kill can change one’s life for the worst. Having such a history in your criminal records can make you less preferable than someone with a clean record. You might struggle to find a job or housing in Orange County.
Avoiding a conviction can be challenging but doable if you work with a Long Beach criminal threats attorney. Strategic defense has saved many accused persons from incarceration, hefty fines, and other consequences associated with this offense.
Some of the common defenses used include:
- You did not convey the threat in writing, electronically, or verbally. You only made a threatening gesture
- The other person’s fear was merely momentary or fleeting
- The victim wasn’t actually afraid
- They couldn’t have reasonably feared for their safety in those circumstances
- The threat was vague and unspecific
It is a false accusation
An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Keeping You Out of Jail
If you have been arrested after threatening to kill another person, you can easily be convicted. But this won’t be your fate when you contact a seasoned attorney at the early stages of your case. Note that most dismissals happen before the case advances to later stages.
Contact The Law Offices of Jerry Nicholson for best outcomes before your case advances to an advanced stage. You will receive sound legal advice and high-quality, aggressive defense in Orange County. Call us at 562-434-8916 today and let us know the details of your case.