We all lose our temper from time to time and say things we regret. When threatening language crosses an invisible line, the government can bring criminal or “terrorist” threat charges. Long Beach criminal lawyer, Matthew Kaestner has a proven track record of successful defense and trial victories for clients charged with making criminal threats.
On October 20, 2017, Long Beach criminal lawyer Matthew Kaestner heard a Los Angeles jury say “NOT GUILTY” on each of 2 criminal threat charges his client faced. Despite the fact that the death threats were videotaped in a 7-11 and that the jury heard that the client had a prior conviction for criminal threats, client Michael W. went home a free man rather than facing a possible 12 year sentence. (People v. Michael W., Case No. BA455514.)
This verdict followed an 11 day run in the Long Beach courts in July 2017 that resulted in the dismissal of 3 separate felony cases. One dismissal took attorney Kaestner 27 days to achieve after a prior attorney told the client to take a “7 year deal.” (P v. Gustavo P., Case No. NA105954.) Five days later, attorney Kaestner negotiated a misdemeanor, no time, resolution on a felon with a firearm charge. (P v. Oscar L., Case No. NA10674.) Six days later, attorney Kaestner persuaded a judge on a P.C. 995 motion that a client lawfully possessed a gun in a private, non-public area of a front yard. The felony case was completely dismissed. (P v. Juan H., Case No. NA106318.)
One of attorney Kaestner’s recent jury trial victories on criminal threats charges occurred in October of 2017. Client M.W. was caught on video in a 7-11 telling his girlfriend that he “had a gun” and would “kill everyone in here.” Despite the fact that the jury was told that client had a prior conviction for criminal threats, the jury returned “NOT GUILTY” verdicts on both counts. M.W. avoided a possible 12 year sentence.
Criminal threats cases can be won and attorney Kaestner believes that an experienced tactical approach can win even what appear to be hopeless cases. Though just a crime of words, criminal threats, Penal Code sec. 422, is a “strike” felony and carries up to 3 years in custody.
The crime of criminal threats contains six “elements” as spelled out in the California jury instructions. A prosecutor must prove that:
- A person wilfully threatened to unlawfully kill or cause great bodily injury to another;
- A person made the threat orally/in writing or by electronic communication device;
- The person intended the statement to be understood as a threat;
- The threat was so clear, immediate, unconditional and specific that it communicated a
serious intention and the immediate prospect that the threat would be carried out;
- The threat actually caused the person threatened to be placed in sustained fear for his
or her own safety or for the safety of his/her immediate family;
- The threatened person’s fear was reasonable under the circumstances.
Defenses to a criminal threats charge include:
-The prosecutor failed to prove one of the above 6 elements;
-The treat was made to prevent attack or in self defense;
-The threatener was intoxicated and couldn’t form the necessary specific intent;
-The threat was protected First Amendment speech.
If you or a loved one is suspected of a criminal threat or is charged and going to court, you need the best Long Beach criminal lawyer you can find to guide you through the court system. Attorney Matthew Kaestner is a California State Bar board certified criminal law specialist with over 30 years of experience. You can reach him directly for a confidential and personal consultation at 562-437-0200.