Recently, a man was arrested at a Wells Fargo bank branch in Valencia on suspicion of making criminal threats. According to reports, the incident involved an alleged act of vandalism. Witnesses reported seeing a man acting strangely and banging on the glass while inside the bank.
Upon their arrival, deputies located and detained the suspect. Apparently, the suspect went into the bank looking for some kind of assistance but, while he was speaking with the employee, he said some things that made the teller afraid. After that, he started banging on the walls and the glass.
He was arrested and taken to the Santa Clarita Sheriff Station for booking and processing. He is currently being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Criminal threats are covered under California Penal Code 422 PC and are described as threats of death or great bodily injury that are intended to (and do) put the target of the threats in reasonable and sustained fear for their safety or the safety of their family.
Interestingly, in order for someone to be charged with making criminal threats, the target of the threats needs to actually be fearful for their life. Telling a friend “I’m going to kill you” after they play a trick on you or something similar likely doesn’t count.
Criminal threats is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the incident and the defendant’s prior criminal history. Misdemeanor convictions carry the possible penalties of up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Felony convictions carry the potential penalties of up to 3 years in California state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the defendant personally uses a deadly or dangerous weapon during the threat, they face an additional year in prison. It’s unknown at this time whether the defendant in the case above is being charged with felony or misdemeanor criminal threats.