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Articles Posted in Criminal Threats

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You’ve just committed a crime, but you dropped your smartphone while you were doing it. Now the police arrive to investigate the scene of the crime, and they find your phone. Are they allowed to use the phone to find you? Do they need a warrant to check your phone?delete-cellphone-300x191.jpg

This situation was called into question in a recent case.

Using Your Phone to Find You

The California case involved a person who broke into a home. After the owner put up a fight, the intruder ran off, but he left his cellphone behind. A password was necessary to unlock the phone, so police dialed 911 using a feature where a phone’s security is bypassed if an emergency call needs to be made.

Emergency dispatchers gave police the phone number used to make the call, which allowed officers to contact the carrier, Verizon. The company wouldn’t release the name of who owned the phone until police obtained a search warrant.

Within a few hours, a warrant was issued. After obtaining the information about the suspect from Verizon, authorities went to his home and arrested him. During a search of his home, police found materials in the man’s home that connected him to a separate kidnapping case.

Does Using a Cellphone Violate the Owner’s Rights?

During the kidnapping case, the defendant’s lawyer argued that the evidence against his client should not be admissible as evidence. His argument was based on the fact that the evidence was discovered only because of the officer’s 911 call, which constituted an illegal search. Did the 911 call count as a warrantless search? Continue reading →

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Twitter Criminal ThreatsThe NCAA men’s basketball tournament didn’t get the nickname “March Madness” just from its tendency to produce shocking results. The nickname also comes from the craziness of the sport’s fans that live and die with every shot, rebound, or bad call against their team.

Such is the case with Ashley Judd. The famed movie actress is one of the most well-known and vocal fans of the University of Kentucky basketball team. During the recent championship game of the Southeastern Conference tournament – which determines which team from the SEC will get an automatic ticket to the NCAA tournament – Judd’s UK Wildcats were in a heated battle with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. She took to Twitter to vent her frustration at what she thought was dirty play by Arkansas. She ended her tweet with “You can kiss my team’s free throw making ass!”

What followed was more than just the typical trash talk between fans. Judd soon found her timeline filled with every curse word in the book, and she was the target of threats of violence, rape, sexual assault, and sodomy.1

Instead of retreating, Judd – herself a survivor of rape, sexual assault, and incest – decided that it was time to fight back. She is now spearheading an effort to press criminal charges against the persons who sent the threatening messages, including penning a column on Mic.com about the need to change the way women are treated online.2

Criminalizing Social Media Threats

In the age of social media, a celebrity using his or her public goodwill to fight back against Internet “trolls” is nothing new. Recently, Curt Schilling, a former professional baseball player and two-time World Series champion, took it upon himself to expose the identities of two men who sent sexually explicit messages (including some that mentioned rape) directed at his 17-year-old daughter. Schilling’s response got one man fired from his job, and the other expelled from his university.3

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Recently, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in the first case that seeks to limit an individual’s right to free speech on social media. The case, Elonis v. United States, concerns Anthony Elonis, an Allentown, Pennsylvania man.1

Social Media ThreatsElonis’s wife left him in 2010, taking their two children. Following her departure, Elonis allegedly made death threats to his estranged wife, local law enforcement officers, an FBI agent, and a kindergarten class in the form of multiple public posts on Facebook. He was charged with five counts of insterstate communication of illegal threats.2

The federal law under 18 U.S.C. Section 875 makes it a crime to “transmit in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another.”

Elonis was found guilty and was sentenced to 44 months in prison. In his appeal, Elonis’ counsel argued that he did not have the intent to threaten all the individuals that he named, and therefore the First Amendment gave him the freedom to make the statements.

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In a recent California criminal case, a court affirmed that a criminal threat does not have to be made directly to the victim as long as the victim takes the statement as a threat.

The decision stems from a carjacking case where the defendant, Lipsett, and an accomplice were attempting to steal a dirt bike from the home of Smith, the victim. Smith came out of the California%20Gun%20Laws%20-%20Brandishing%20of%20a%20Firearm.jpghouse with his dog to confront the carjackers. Smith and Lipsett then got in a tug of war over the bike while the dog barked at the defendant. Lipsett yelled at his accomplice to “Shoot him, shoot the dog” several times. The accomplice pointed what appeared to be a gun at Smith. Smith ran back inside with his dog while Lipsett and his accomplice loaded the bike onto a truck and drove away.

Lipsett was eventually caught and charged with one count of carjacking (California Penal Code Section 215), one count of vehicle theft (Vehicle Code Section 10851) and one count of making a criminal threat (Penal Code Section 422). The charges contained a personal use of a firearm enhancement (Penal Code Section 12022) and Lipsett’s prior felony criminal history (Penal Code Section 667) was considered.

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A charge of criminal threats in Los Angeles can have serious and long-lasting consequences if you are convicted of this crime. A criminal threat means you threaten to cause great bodily injury or death to a person.

canstockphoto1070874.jpgEach of the following elements must be proven by the prosecution in order for you to be found guilty of the crime of criminal threats.

  • The threat is communicated verbally, in writing, or electronically; and
  • The person(s) you threaten has cause to be reasonably in fear for his or her safety or for the safety of that person’s family; and
  • The threat is made unequivocally, unconditionally, or immediately; and
  • The threat is made with specific intent.
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The Ventura Criminal Threats Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully representing clients charged with criminal threats for well over 30 years. Our attorneys have the skill and expertise to provide you with the best possible defense and outcome in your case.

What Is A Criminal Threat?

A “criminal threat” according to California Penal Code Section 422 is when you:

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If you have been charged with giving a criminal threat under California Penal Code section 422 you face the possibility of serious consequences, including jail time and substantial fines. It is important that you contact a Ventura criminal threats attorney immediately if you have been charged with giving a criminal threat.

Ventura%20Criminal%20Threats%20Attorney%20888-280-6839.jpgIn order for you to be convicted of making a criminal threat under California Penal Code section 422 the prosecution must prove:

– You willfully threatened to kill or seriously injure another person;

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canstockphoto5364621Criminal threats is a form of assault. If you are charged with this crime in Ventura, it is important to immediately contact a Ventura assualt attorney to avoid the potential consequences that come with being found guilty of this crime.

The elements to convict for criminal threats are defined in People v. Toledo (2001) 26 Cal.4th 221, 227-228. In order to prove a violation of section 422, the prosecution must establish all of the following:

  • The defendant “willfully threatened to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person,”
  • The defendant made the threat “with the specific intent that the statement . . . is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out,”
  • The threat which may be made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device was “on its face and under the circumstances in which it was made so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat,
  • The threat actually caused the person threatened to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s safety, and
  • The threatened person’s fear was reasonable under the circumstances.

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Criminal threats or “terrorist threats” is a serious crime in California and is defined as “Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s safety.”

Is Criminal Threats a Felony or Misdemeanor?

canstockphoto1070874Criminal threats is a “wobbler” under California law which means that it can be charged by the Prosecution as a felony or a misdemeanor. It is important know that this is true regardless of whether you were initially arrested on this charge as a felony or misdemeanor. There have been cases where the police have arrested people on misdemeanor criminal threats charges and the prosecution decided to file the case as a felony and vice-versa. The prosecution has absolute discretion in whether to file this charge as a felony or misdemeanor and will consider factors such as the seriousness of the specific case and the defendant’s criminal history.

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dontspeakThe elements to convict for criminal threats in Los Angeles are defined in People v. Toledo (2001) 26 Cal.4th 221, 227-228. In order to prove a violation of section 422, the prosecution must establish all of the following:

  • The defendant “willfully threatened to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person,”
  • The defendant made the threat “with the specific intent that the statement . . . is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out,”
  • The threat which may be made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device was “on its face and under the circumstances in which it was made so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat,
  • The threat actually caused the person threatened to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s safety, and
  • The threatened person’s fear was reasonable under the circumstances.

Continue reading →

About Wallin & Klarich

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.