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Name: In re A.S.
Case #: H039825
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/24/2014
Subsequent History: Review granted 9/24/2014: S220280

Unarmed juvenile appellant’s angry statements that he would shoot and kill the victim constituted a criminal threat. A juvenile court found that appellant made a criminal threat (Pen. Code, § 422) based on evidence that he threatened to kill Thacker, a family friend, during an argument. On appeal, appellant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support the juvenile court’s finding. Held: Affirmed. Section 422 requires the threat “on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made,” to be “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.” Appellant’s statements and actions satisfied this element. While upset, he threatened to shoot and kill Thacker in a loud voice using explicit language. He formed his hand into a gun, placed it into Thacker’s face, and said, “pow, pow, pow” to emphasize his point. Thacker testified that he believed appellant could actually shoot him and he called 911 to report the threat. There was no evidence that Thacker perceived the statements as mere puffery or as a joke. The prosecution was not required to present evidence that appellant was armed with a gun when he made the threat. The evidence also showed that Thacker was in sustained fear for his safety. He testified that he was “in fear,” “scared,” “upset,” and “shaking” immediately after the threat and the evidence demonstrated that his fear continued after he left the scene. Although Thacker testified that he was not scared of appellant generally, he feared for his safety when appellant lost his temper and the evidence showed that appellant was angry when he threatened Thacker.

Appellant’s no-contact probation conditions are not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad. Appellant also challenged probation conditions ordering him to “have no contact of any type with” specified persons. The juvenile court explained the meaning of the no-contact condition when it was imposed, and directed appellant to avoid the person and walk away if he ever runs into the person. The appellate court rejected appellant’s argument that the conditions were unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, and that they should be modified to include a knowledge requirement, to specify a particular distance restriction, and to name a few places that he should avoid. Probation conditions are given the meaning that would appear to a reasonable, objective reader and otherwise vague or broad conditions may be constitutional because the juvenile court offered additional oral or written comments clarifying the conditions. Here, a reasonable, objective reader would construe the term “contact” as requiring awareness of the presence of the contacted person. The juvenile court’s comments regarding the condition clarified that appellant could not unknowingly violate the no-contact conditions.