These are mainly taken from the California Case Law collection at
www.findlaw.com. I do not include URLs as they don't work without a free
registration in any case. The signup is right on the main page.
IANAL and take no responsibility for any errors in interpretation of these
People v. Melhado (1998), 60 Cal.App.4th 1529
Defendant threatened mechanic with inactive grenade, saying "I'm going to blow
you away," and "I'm going to blow up this place. If I don't get this car by
Monday, then I'm going to blow it away." Defendant was convicted of violating
Pen. Code, § 422. Conviction reversed due to improper jury instruction on
People v. Mirmirani , 30 Cal.3d 375 [Crim. No. 21945. Supreme Court of California. December 7, 1981.] Previous Pen. Code, § 422 found unconstitutionally vague and overbroad because of language specifying threat must be "in order to achieve a social or political goal." Language concerning "social and political goal" found to have no legal meaning.
People v. Mendoza (1997), 59 Cal.App.4th 1333 [No. B108701. Second Dist., Div. Seven. Dec 11, 1997.] Vague threat. Appellant told her she had "fucked up his brother's testimony," and that "[h]e was going to talk to some guys from Happy Town." Threat found "sufficiently specific" in the context that "Happy Town" is a criminal street gang which performs murders and other violent crimes. People v. Gudger, 29 Cal.App.4th 310 [No. B080311. Second Dist., Div. Two. Oct 18, 1994.] Defendant appeals conviction under Pen. Code, § 76 for threatening to shoot a judge. Defendant had been found not guilty of violating Pen. Code, § 422 because of conditionality of threat. Appeal on § 76 denied. People v. Stanfield, 32 Cal.App.4th 1152 [No. B082070. Second Dist., Div. Five. Feb 28, 1995.] Direct quote. Defendant Betty Jo Stanfield appeals from her conviction of making terrorist threats. She threatened that if her former attorney did not join her in bringing her "Universe Reform Party" into power, she would hire gang members to kill him. Appellate decisions conflict as to whether a threat containing such conditional language supports a conviction under Penal Code section 422. (Compare People v. Brooks (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 142 [31 Cal.Rptr.2d 283] ["if you testify, I'll kill you"-sufficient to support a conviction] with People v. Brown (1993) 20 Cal.App.4th 1251 [25 Cal.Rptr.2d 76] ["if you call the police, I'll kill you"- not sufficient].) Relying on Brown, a decision of Division Seven of this appellate district, defendant contends her conviction must be reversed. In accord with the Fourth District's decision in Brooks, we conclude that Penal Code section 422 may be violated by a threat containing conditional language. We affirm. (Also contains an in-depth discussion of the meaning of the phrase "so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate and specific.") Compares and contrasts People v. Brooks and People v. Brown. People v. Brooks, 26 Cal.App.4th 142 [No. E011679. Fourth Dist., Div. Two. Jun 24, 1994.] Defendant issued threat "If you go to court and testify, I'll kill you." Defendant later put a gun in victim's mouth while threatening to kill her. Victim reported "If I was to go anywhere near the courthouse or anywhere downtown, I would be killed, and there's no place I could run or hide. They'd find me no matter where I went." Defendant appeals conviction under Pen. Code, § 422 and a variety of other charges. Appeal of Code, § 422 based on contention that the threat was conditional. Unlike the Brown case, this was found to meet the statutory requirements of § 422 People v. Brown, 20 Cal.App.4th 1251 [No. B072240. Second Dist., Div. Seven. Dec 7, 1993.] Pen. Code, § 422 appeal on "unconditional" threat reversed because of conditionality of threat. Appellant, holding his pistol in front of him with both hands, said "if we called the police, he would kill us." Other convictions affirmed. People v. Fisher, 12 Cal.App.4th 1556 [No. A054733. First Dist., Div. One. Feb 1, 1993.] Constitutional challenge to Pen. Code, § 422, convicted defendant argues overbreadth and that In re David L. (1991) 234 Cal.App.3d 1655, 1661 [286 Cal.Rptr. 398] is not controlling authority because of its summary treatment. Judgment of original court affirmed. In re David L., 234 Cal.App.3d 1655 [No. C010112. Third Dist. Oct 10, 1991.] Threat by juvenile defendant communicated to victim by third party considered a violation of Pen. Code, § 422. Defendant appealed conviction claiming that § 422 was not intended to cover threats communicated by an intermediary, as well as a variety of other undeveloped constitutional grounds. Appeal rejected.
(Other important cases.) Watts v. United States (1969) 394 U.S. 705 [22 L.Ed.2d 664, 89 S.Ct. 1399] Federal statute criminalizing "knowingly and willfully" threatening the President was constitutional on its face. At the same time, however, the Watts court cautioned that a statute which criminalizes a form of pure speech must be interpreted with the commands of the First Amendment clearly in mind, and a true threat must be distinguished from constitutionally protected speech. (Id., at pp. 706-708 [22 L.Ed.2d at pp. 666-667].) (Cited in People v. Fisher, 12 Cal.App.4th 1556 [No. A054733. First Dist., Div. One. Feb 1, 1993.] However, defendant's conviction was set aside because his statements were political hyperbole rather than a "true threat." Defendant had said concerning having received draft papers: "I am not going. If they ever make me carry a rifle the first man I want to get in my sights is [President Johnson]." (Id., at p. 706.) Watts and the people present laughed. The Supreme Court agreed with Watts's position that his statement was "political hyperbole" rather than a "true 'threat' " when "[t]aken in context, and regarding the expressly conditional nature of the statement and the reaction of the listeners ...." (Id., at p. 708.) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, v. ABRAHAM JACOB ALKHABAZ, also known as Jake Baker ELECTRONIC CITATION: 1997 FED App. 0036P (6th Cir.) File Name: 97a0036p.06 No. 95-1797 Government appeals quashing of indictment of Jake Baker, who posted numerous gruesome and graphic depictions of rape and torture to the Usenet newsgroup alt.sex.stories as well as discussing plans for the kidnapping and rape of minors in email with an Ontario correspondent. Appeal denied, communications deemed not to be a "true threat" within the meaning of United States v. Kelner , 534 F.2d 1020 (2d Cir. 1976). http://laws.findlaw.com/6th/970036p.html United States v. Kelner , 534 F.2d 1020 (2d Cir. 1976) Defendant Kelner threatened the assassination of PLO leader Yasser Arafat. This was found to further political goals, however the use of language regarding "political goals" in a threat statute was found unconstitutionally vague and overbroad and the conviction was reversed. The current language of federal threat statutes and Pen. Code, § 422 now is in conformance with the Kelner court's reasoning after the Mirmirani case.