Long Beach Criminal Threats Defense

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Representing Long Beach, CA, Clients Accused of Making Criminal Threats

While most Californians are aware of the actions they might take that could lead to criminal charges, some things can lead to criminal prosecution, even when no specific action is taken. Criminal threats, also called terroristic threats, are one example of this type of offense. A person can face criminal prosecution simply for threatening someone else, whether verbally, in writing, or via electronic communication. Making criminal or terroristic threats is a serious offense, and it can potentially lead to severe legal penalties under California state law.

If you or a loved one has been charged with making criminal or terroristic threats against someone else, you need legal counsel you can trust to help you navigate the situation. A Long Beach criminal threats defense attorney is the best possible asset you can have on your side during this type of situation. Your attorney can help you determine the best approach to defending yourself against the charges filed against you and ultimately guide you to the most positive possible outcome in your case.

Why Should I Hire a Defense Attorney?

The Constitution of the United States provides every American citizen with specific rights and protections. When it comes to the criminal justice system, every American citizen has the right to legal counsel when accused of a crime. If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, or if they do not want to pay legal fees, the court can appoint a public defender to handle their defense. Most public defenders are very talented and hardworking legal professionals, but they handle heavy caseloads and often cannot provide any client with much individual attention.

A private Long Beach criminal threats defense attorney can offer more expansive and personalized legal counsel than the best public defenders. Your attorney can help you fully understand all the legal statutes in play in your case and help you formthe most vigorous possible defense. To succeed with conviction, the state prosecutors handling a criminal threats case must establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney can help you prevent the prosecution from making their case and ultimately guide you to the most favorable outcome under California law.

Understanding Criminal Threats in California

California state law has a precise definition of what constitutes a criminal or terroristic threat. There are four elements the prosecution must establish to secure a conviction on criminal threat charges:

  1. The defendant threatened to kill or seriously harm the victim.
  2. The defendant made the threat verbally, in writing, or through an electronic communication medium. It’s more difficult for the prosecution to substantiate a verbal threat, but it is quite easy for them to retain a copy of any threat conveyed in writing or through electronic media.
  3. The victim was in a state of reasonably sustained fear for their safety due to the threat. This means the prosecution must prove that the victim feared for their safety due to the threat. On the other hand, if the victim did not take the threat seriously or did not believe the defendant meant the threat literally, the prosecution would be unlikely to secure a conviction.
  4. The defendant’s threat was “unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific.” This means the defendant must have conveyed a wish or intent to harm or kill the victim, but they do not necessarily need to clarify how they would carry out the threat. For example, simply stating “I’m going to kill you” or “I’m going to shoot you” would both qualify as making a criminal threat.

If the prosecution can successfully establish these four elements of a criminal threat, conviction is likely. However, there are several ways an experienced Long Beach criminal threat defense attorney can help their client avoid conviction or at least reduce their penalty.

The penalties for conviction of making criminal or terroristic threats hinge on many factors. Specifically, if there is any evidence that would show the defendant had a clear intention to carry out the threat, this may escalate the case to include additional charges up to and including attempted murder. In addition, criminal threats qualify as “wobblers” under California criminal law, meaning they can potentially qualify as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the details of the case. As a result, the defendant could face penalties at the misdemeanor level, including up to one year in county jail and fines up to $1,000. At the felony level, the defendant faces up to three years in a California state prison and fines up to $10,000.

Building Your Defense

If you are charged with making criminal or terroristic threats, your attorney will help you determine the best available defenses. Your Long Beach criminal threats defense attorney should focus on undermining the prosecution’s evidence however possible. This may involve:

  • Proving the threat was too vague or ambiguous to qualify as “unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific.”
  • Proving the threat did not meet the legal definition of “immediate.”
  • Proving that the threat did not place the alleged victim in a state of sustained and reasonable fear.
  • Calling the alleged victim’s state of fear into question or proving that fear wasn’t sustained
  • Proving the alleged victim made a false accusation.

Your attorney will help you determine the best approach to crafting your defense using available evidence. Because many criminal threat cases revolve around verbal statements either taken out of context or blown out of proportion, it may be easier than you initially expected to disprove the prosecution’s evidence and avoid conviction. However, if you did transmit a clear threat of any kind, a skilled attorney could assist you through the plea-bargaining process and help you plead down to reduced charges with a lighter sentence.

Find Your Attorney Now

When you or a loved one is accused of a crime, it’s essential to start working on your defense immediately for the best chances of overcoming conviction. The Law Offices of Henry Salcido have years of experience providing comprehensive and client-focused criminal defense representation in Long Beach cases, including those involving criminal threats. We can help you explore your available defenses and assist you in compiling the most vigorous possible defense against the charges you face. If you are ready to discuss your options for criminal defense with an experienced Long Beach criminal threats defense attorney, contact the Law Offices of Henry Salcido today for more information about how our firm can assist you.

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