What is PC 422?
While watching TV shows or movies that depict crime, we are often shown a character that is threatening to do harm to another character. Grandiose threats are made, and most of the time the threats never materialize. However, these situations would turn out very differently in real life. According to PC 422, if a person “wilfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury” they can face criminal charges. Therefore, threats do have repercussions.
There are several conditions that must be met for this charge to apply. The suspect must have had the specific intent to threaten the victim, and done so in such a way that the victim feared for their own/family’s safety. The threat must have been specific to the victim and made the possibility of death or injury very clear. However, a criminal threat does not have to be fully carried out. Regardless of whether the perpetrator acted on the threat, the charge of PC 422 still applies. These threats can be communicated in writing, electronically, or verbally.
Punishment of PC 422
The crime of criminal threat falls under the wobbler category. Therefore, a defendant can either face a misdemeanor or felony charge based on the context of the crime and their past criminal history. If charged with a misdemeanor, the defendant may possibly face one year in a county jail. However, if the defendant is charged with a felony, they can face up to 3 years in a California state prison facility.
Given that there is possible prison time for this crime, if someone is falsely accused of sending criminal threats, they must consult an experienced criminal attorney. There are possible ways of defending against such a charge, which can include proving that the defendant never wanted the threats communicated (verbally, in writing, or over electronic devices).