Terrorist Threats Legal Definition In California
Section 422 defines the crime of terrorist threats and, in January 1998 provided:
"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 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, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison. . . ."
"Section 422 was enacted as part of the 'California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act' of 1988. (People v. Brooks (1994) 26 Cal. App. 4th 142, 149 31 Cal. Rptr. 2d 283.)
We have previously held that the section does not apply solely to street gang activity and may be applied to individuals. (In re Ge M. (1991) 226 Cal. App. 3d 1519, 1523 277 Cal. Rptr. 554.)" (People v. Dias (1997) 52 Cal. App. 4th 46, 50-51.)
"The genesis of the language in Penal Code section 422 is well known. In 1981, the California Supreme Court invalidated former section 422 as unconstitutionally vague. (People v. Mirmirani (1981) 30 Cal. 3d 375, 178 Cal. Rptr. 792, 636 P.2d 1130.)
The statute was repealed in 1987, and a substantially revised statute was enacted in 1988. (Stats.1987, ch. 828, 28, p. 2587; Stats. 1988, ch. 1256, 4, pp. 4184-4185.)
The relevant statutory language was adopted almost verbatim from United States v. Kelner (2d Cir.1976) 534 F.2d 1020, a case which discussed the boundaries imposed by the First Amendment on the punishment of threats. (People v. Fisher (1993) 12 Cal. App. 4th 1556, 1560 .)" (People v. Stanfield (1995) 32 Cal. App. 4th 1152, 1159.)
"Later federal cases applying and interpreting Kelner and Watts v. United States (1969) 394 U.S. 705 22 L. Ed. 2d 664, 89 S. Ct. 1399 (upon which Kelner relied) held that the conditional nature of a threat did not render it unpunishable. (People v. Brooks, supra, 26 Cal. App. 4th at pp. 146-147, and cases cited therein; see for example United States v. Schneider (7th Cir.1990) 910 F.2d 1569, 1570 'Most threats are conditional; they are designed to accomplish something; the threatener hopes that they will accomplish it, so that he won't have to carry out the threats'.)
In general, the federal courts after Kelner have concluded that not all threats to perform illegal acts are protected by the First Amendment, and a conditional threat may be culpable depending upon its context. (People v. Brooks, supra, 26 Cal. App. 4th at p. 149.)" (People v. Dias (1997) 52 Cal. App. 4th 46, 51.)
Indeed, following Dias, ibid., our Supreme Court in People v. Bolin (1998) 18 Cal. 4th 297, 337-340, 956 P.2d 374, disapproved People v. Brown (1993) 20 Cal. App. 4th 1251, 1256, the only California case to require an "unconditional" threat as an element of section 422.)
In People v. Gudger (1994) 29 Cal. App. 4th 310, this Division upheld a challenge to section 76 on the basis of overbreadth. Defendant in Gudger, id. at pages 317-318, had focused on section 422 as a related statute which this court described as proscribing terrorist threats and containing "certain defining language which has ensured the constitutionality of that statute . . . ." We see no reason to change our view that section 422 withstands a constitutional challenge for overbreadth.