Criminal Threats


No one wants to live in fear. Which is essentially what the law relating to criminal threats seeks to prevent. Not be taken lightly, the consequences if found guilty of making criminal threats are serious. You should not delay in seeking legal representation. In particular, you should contact a San Diego criminal threats defense lawyer with the experience and knowledge to help you beat the charges.

When Is A Threat Criminal?

A general threat is to put someone in fear, however, the action becomes criminal when the threat relates to causing physical harm or to kill that person. The nature of the offense is such that the following must also be present to create the foundation for a charge of criminal threat:

  • As a result of the threat, the victim is in a reasonable and sustained state of fear for their safety or that of their family;
  • The threat was clear and unambiguous; and
  • The threat was communicated whether by writing, verbally, or electronically.

It is important to note that the crime is committed whether or not you possessed the ability to make good on your threat or you have the intention to do so. There are many layers to each element of the crime of criminal threat and it would be wise to seek the advice of a lawyer. Criminal threat offenses are also referred to as “wobblers” in California law, which means the prosecutor can file a case as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

Can I Go To Jail For Making Criminal Threats?

Since criminal threats under California Penal Code can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, the penalties associated will depend in part on how it is classified. A misdemeanor criminal threat carries a maximum jail time of one year. On the other hand, if convicted of felony criminal threat, you could be facing a maximum four years behind bars. The sentencing of this offense can also include a fine.

It is important to note that a conviction for making a criminal threat is considered a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. Accordingly, if you are sentenced to prison time, you will need to serve 85% of the sentence before the possibility of release. Additionally, a prior strike will result in twice the time for imprisonment and if this is your third strike, you will face a required minimum sentence of 25 years.

It is clear from the consequences of being found guilty for a criminal threat, that this is an offense that should not be taken lightly. With this in mind, it is critical that you get in touch with a defense lawyer as soon as possible.

How Do I Beat The Charges?

In all criminal matters, the law dictates that you are innocent until you plead guilty or a court finds you guilty. Accordingly, being charged with the offense of criminal threat is not the end of the road. With an experienced San Diego criminal threats defense lawyer by your side, you can put forward a sound defense. The legal defenses available to you at trial will include:

  • There was no clear and obvious threat;
  • It was not reasonable for the victim to be fearful;
  • The victim did not actually experience any fear;
  • If there was fear, it was just for a moment;
  • The alleged threat was only a gesture and was not communicated as required by law; or
  • The allegations are false.

In some instances, while your actions will not meet the requirement for a charge of criminal threat, it might for a lesser offense. Your lawyer will do the necessary research and investigation, and base on the facts in your case, he or she will be able to negotiate a lower charge. Additionally, when it becomes clear the prosecution has no chance of success, your defense lawyer can request that your charges be dismissed with the required pre-trial motions.

Find A San Diego Criminal Threats Defense Lawyer

At McElfresh Law, we have committed years of legal practice to criminal defense representation in San Diego, California. We are dedicated to providing quality legal advocacy to those charged with making a criminal threat.

We understand that this is a very hard time for both you and your family. The legal team at McElfresh Law is trained to deliver professional and in-depth legal service with the aim of securing your innocence. A criminal threat is a serious offense, and as such you should hire a lawyer that treats your matter with the urgency it requires.

Call us today at (858) 756-7107, and let us fight for you as your San Diego criminal threats defense lawyer.