Law School Case Brief
People v. Allen - 33 Cal. App. 4th 1149, 40 Cal. Rptr. 2d 7 (1995)
Cal. Penal Code § 422 requires the person threatened reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety. The prosecution must prove that defendant has the specific intent that his statement is taken as a threat, whether or not he actually intends to carry it out. Besides requiring this showing of defendant's mental element, § 422 also requires proof of a mental element in the victim.
Following a trial by the court, defendant Carl Frank Allen was convicted for terrorist threats under Cal. Pen. Code § 422 (punishment for threats causing "sustained" fear), and also stalking, burglary, and assault. The victim knew that defendant had made a practice of looking inside the victim's home, and had reported defendant's conduct to the police on previous occasions. Defendant threatened to kill the victim and her daughter while pointing a gun at the victim. The victim telephoned the police, who arrested defendant approximately 15 minutes later. The appellate court vacated the sentence imposed for stalking and modified the judgment to reflect only a misdemeanor conviction and sentence, but in all other respects affirmed the judgment. Defendant challenged his conviction for terrorist threats pursuant to § 422, arguing that the evidence was not sufficient because there was no showing that the victim sustained fear as required by § 422.
Was the evidence sufficient to sustain defendant’s conviction for terrorist threats pursuant to Cal. Penal Code § 422?
The Court held that substantial evidence supported defendant's conviction under Pen. Code § 422. Fifteen minutes of fear of a defendant who was armed, mobile, and at large, and who has threatened to kill the victim and her daughter, was more than sufficient to constitute "sustained" fear for purposes of this element of the statute. Thus, the Court affirmed the trial court's judgment.
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