Criminal Threats

Criminal Threats & Witness Intimidation:

Contact Murrieta – Temecula criminal defense Attorney Karen E. Lockhart at (951) 698-5191 if you are charged with making criminal threats, or dissuading a witness. Both are very serious charges and can result in a state prison sentence and a strike conviction under the “Three Strikes” laws. Consultations are available by telephone, in person, and weekends and evening by appointment. Consultations are always free and confidential.

Criminal Threats is defined in Penal Code section 422. Witness Intimidation is defined in Penal Code sections 132 - 141. Although they share some of the same elements, the two are distinctively unique crimes. Both are very serious crimes and are considered a strike.

Criminal Threats: The crime of “criminal threats”, formerly known as terrorist threats can be charged whether or not the person making the threat has the ability to carry out the threat or even intended to carry out the threat. A criminal threat occurs when a person threatens to kill or physically harm someone and that person is thereby placed in sustained fear for his/her safety or for the safety of his/her immediate family. The threat must be communicated, specific and unequivocal. The charge of criminal threats is a “strike” offense under the “Three Strikes” law.

Witness Intimidation: To prove witness intimidation, the prosecutor must prove that you attempted to prevent a witness from, giving testimony in court, filing a police report, cooperating with law enforcement, or discouraging the arrest of someone, and acted with specific intent to commit those acts.


Criminal threats can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction can result in a one year county jail sentence; a felony carries a range of 16 months 2, or 3 years in state prison.

Potential defenses include the fact the alleged victim was not in sustained fear. This may be proved by an ongoing relationship, or subsequent contact initiated by the alleged victim.

The direct penalties and collateral consequences of a conviction for dissuading a witness can be severe. If you are convicted of misdemeanor witness intimidation, you can face up to one year in the county jail and up to $1,000 in fine. Additionally, a misdemeanor witness intimidation conviction will prevent you from owning or possessing a firearm for ten (10) years. A felony conviction carries the potential for four years in state prison. More if enhancements are alleged.

Before prosecutors can convict you of Penal "dissuading a witness", they must be able to prove that you knowingly dissuaded or intimidated a witness or victim. This means that if you were unaware that the person was a witness or victim, or didn't realize you were engaging in intimidating or threatening behavior, you aren't guilty of this offense.

Witness intimidation and criminal threats are “strike” offense under the “Three Strikes” law.

Criminal Threats and Witness Intimidation Defense

You deserve the best representation available. You need an experienced criminal threats and witness intimidation defense attorney. Call attorney Karen E. Lockhart at 951-698-5191. Our office located at the Murrieta - Temecula Border, just a few miles south of Southwest Justice Center and Southwest Detention Center. You need an attorney with a proven track record. Contact us today for a confidential consultation. Consultations are always free.