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Name: People v. Wilson
Case #: F056965
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/13/2010

The immediacy element of Penal Code section 422 (criminal threats) does not place a specific timeline on when a specific and unconditional threat must be executed and does not require an immediate ability to carry out the threat. Appellant, serving a prison term, threatened to find people and “blast” the correctional officer when appellant was released on parole in ten months. He was convicted of criminal threats and threats to a member of a class of public officials, and sentenced to a life term under the “strike” statute. On appeal, appellant claimed that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of criminal threats because the threat did not convey a gravity of purpose and immediate prospect of execution since appellant was in custody and under the control of the prison when he made the threat. In an opinion outlining the history of section 422, the court found that sufficient evidence supported the conviction. A conviction for violation of section 422 requires substantial evidence that defendant made a threat that “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 . . . .” (People v. Franz (2001) 88 Cal. App.4th 1426, 1449.) By telling the officer that he would retaliate in ten months, appellant’s threat conveyed the requisite specificity, immediacy, and date certain. Under the circumstances, the threat caused the victim to reasonably be in sustained fear for his life. The statute does not require the threat to be immediately carried out, rather an immediate prospect of execution with “immediate prospect of execution” having an entirely different meaning than prospect of immediate execution. The court also found that for the purposes of Penal Code section 76, subdivision (a), sufficient evidence was presented to establish that the officer was a member of the requisite class of employees, i.e., “exempt appointee of the Governor.”