At the Law Office of Gregory H. Comings, we handle all types of cases, from misdemeanor assault cases to complex murder crimes. Riverside County attorney Gregory H. Comings fights for clients who have been charged with criminal threats or other domestic violence offenses. Domestic violence is unique in that it is a crime that may be charged when there is no physical contact during an alleged incident. California law makes it a crime to attempt to cause harm to another person. When criminal threats are made against specific persons, such as a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, cohabitant, or co-parent, the prosecution may charge the crime as domestic violence offense.
Willfully threatening to commit a crime that can result in death or great bodily injury to another is a crime according to California Penal Code 422. These can be verbal or written threats. Domestic violence charges may result if that person falls under the relationship of a spouse, boyfriend, co-parent, or cohabitant, among other relations. This serious crime may be charged as a felony, leading to prison sentences for those convicted.
These threats include electronic communications, including cyberstalking. The victim and the suspect need not be physically in the same location. However, as an element of criminal threats, the threat must have been intended to be taken as a threat. The threat must have been clear and unconditional. Finally, the threat must have caused the person to be in reasonable fear of their safety.
For example, sending a threatening text message to your girlfriend that you intend to hurt her may meet the elements of Penal Code 422. If the text instead stated that you would damage her property, this may not meet the requirements for a charge of criminal threats.
As a wobbler offense, criminal threats and domestic violence may be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony. The circumstances surrounding the crime, including the defendant’s criminal history will dictate the severity of charges. A misdemeanor conviction for PC 422 may include up to one year in county jail, as well as probation. A felony conviction can lead to up to three years in a California state prison. If a deadly or dangerous weapon was used, there may be an additional year of prison.
Felony convictions under PC 422 are considered a “strike” under California's Three Strikes Law. In most cases the prosecution requires a protective order at the time of the defendant’s arraignment. While the criminal charges are pending, the order remains in force. If the protective order is violated, new criminal charges may result under California Penal Code Section 273.6 PC.
False allegations is a potential defense if the facts indicate that the victim exaggerated, or perhaps misled law enforcement that responded to the scene. The defense in this situation shows that the alleged victim lied, or exaggerated their testimony to law enforcement. Individuals in close relationships may make false accusations out of a desire to get revenge, for instance. False accusations do not support criminal charges. Domestic violence cases do not always involve physical injuries, and for this reason, a skilled domestic violence lawyer must carefully assess whether the defense of false accusations is appropriate.
If an element of the crime is not met, the prosecution will not be able to sustain a conviction. For example, if the threat was ambiguous, or not immediate, then the prosecution will not be able to support their charges. Additionally, if the victim did not fear harm, then this element is not met. The prosecution bears the burden of showing that the victim took the threats seriously enough to fear great bodily injury or death
Riverside County lawyer Gregory H. Comings is prepared to assist clients in need of a domestic violence lawyer or legal representation for criminal charges based on sex offenses, or other crimes. Our goal is to tailor a defense to the specific facts of the case in order to reduce or even dismiss pending charges. To discuss your case with a knowledgeable criminal threats and domestic violence attorney, call (951) 686-3457 or reach us online. We serve clients throughout Riverside as well as nearby communities of Palm Desert, Indio, San Bernardino and more.