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Name: In re George T.
Case #: S111780
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/22/2004

The California Supreme Court granted review in this case to determine whether the delivery of a poem to two classmates by a high school student constituted the making of a criminal threat. The poem said, in part, that “I can be the next kid to bring guns to school…so parents watch your children cuz I’m back!” The Court of Appeal affirmed the true finding on a petition alleging a violation of Penal Code section 422. The Supreme Court disagreed and reversed. The poem and the circumstances surrounding its dissemination fail to establish it was a criminal threat because it was not so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the students a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat. While perhaps discomforting and unsettling, in context it does not constitute an actual threat to kill or inflict harm; it is ambiguous and plainly equivocal.