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Threat of Injury Made to an Officer in Performance of their Duties Laws (PC 71) in California

PC 71(a): Threat of Injury Made to an Officer in Performance of their Duties Laws

Legal Definition: Every person who, with intent to cause, attempts to cause, or causes, any officer or employee of any public or private educational institution or any public officer or employee to do or refrain from doing, any act in the performance of his duties, by means of a threat, directly communicated to such person, to inflict an unlawful injury upon any person or property, and it reasonably appears to the recipient of the threat that such threat could be carried out, is guilty of a public offense.

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 71(a), the prosecution must show that:

1. You knowingly and willingly threatened to inflict injury on a public official;

2. The person you threatened was an officer or employee of any public or private educational institution, a public employee or officer, or a public employee or officer, or a member of the immediate family of such;

3. When you acted, you intended your statement to be taken as a threat;

4. The threat you made was meant to keep the public employee from performing his official duty;


5. You had the present ability to carry out the threat.

What does this mean?

A threat may be oral or written and may be implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of statements and conduct. You do not have to communicate the threat directly to the intended victim but may do so through someone else. Someone who intends that a statement be understood as a threat does not have to actually intend to carry out the threatened act or intend to have someone else do so. Directly communicated includes, but is not limited to, communication to the recipient of the threat by telephone, telegraph, or letter.

You do not need the specific intent to commit the threat, only to have the specific intent to make a threat to the public official. You do not need to actually carry out the threat or make any kind of physical contact with the official for this threat to be communicated to and the crime committed. An example of this could be assuming your loved one is in the process of getting arresting lawfully by police. While this happens, you get upset and tell the cop you will kill them if they arrest your loved one. Because you have the present ability to commit the crime, are intending the threat to stop the lawful arrest, then you would be in violation of this section.

This can also be found if a person threatens to slap, for example, their teacher. Since that teacher is working in their own public capacity, a threat made to them would also be grounds for a charge under PC 71.


The threat of Injury Made to an Officer in the Performance of their Duties under PC 71 is a wobbler offense in California. This means you can be charged with this crime as a misdemeanor or as a felony offense. If you are convicted of this charge as a misdemeanor, you can be sentenced to County Jail for up to one year. If you are convicted of this charge as a felony, you can be sentenced to State Prison for up to 16 months, 2 or 3 years. You would have to serve 50% of that time in County Jail or State Prison. If you have a prior conviction under PC 71, then any subsequent changes would be automatically felony charges. You could also be subject to fines upwards of $10,000, as well as a firearm ban from 10 years for a misdemeanor conviction, to a lifetime ban if you are convicted of a felony violation under PC 71.

PC 71 is not a strike offense under the Three Strikes Law, and it is also not a charge requiring Sex Registration under PC 290. If you are convicted of PC 71, you could likely face a loss, suspension, or revocation of your professional license. You could also face immigration consequences if you are a non-US Citizen living in the United States.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Violation of Rights
  4. Intoxication

You must intend for your communication to be heard of as a threat by the recipient of the threat. If, for example, through a review of the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable person does not find the statement made as a threat, then there would be insufficient evidence to prove you guilty of the charge. This can also happen if you did not intend to ever make a threat and it was simply miscommunicated. Things such as pranks, or jokes, can sometimes be taken the wrong way by a person not as well versed in comedy.

Because this is a specific intent crime, the defense of Intoxication can assist. As noted, Voluntary Intoxication generally is not a defense, since a person who gets intoxicated cannot make them impervious to committing crimes or act as an excuse or justification for the person’s actions. But, it can affect crimes that required specific intent, since the intoxication can hinder your ability and change what you say and do. If found to be true, it would show you lacked the proper intent to commit the crime. It is never a defense to a general intent crime, however.

Call Today

The dynamic between law enforcement officials and prosecutors is inherently complex, marked by a close working relationship and a shared objective to secure convictions. This collaboration becomes particularly evident in cases under PC 71, where offenses involve threats of injury against officers—situations where the police often stand as the victim. The prosecutorial zeal in these instances can be attributed to the need to protect what are frequently their key witnesses. Given these circumstances, such charges are pursued with considerable intensity, underscoring the necessity for an assertive and strategic defense.

At Inland Empire Criminal Defense, based in Ontario, CA, our attorney specializing in PC 71 has a proven history of successfully defending clients against charges of threats against officers. Our experience highlights our ability to navigate the intricacies of these cases, challenging the prosecution’s assertions and striving to safeguard your rights and freedom.

Why Inland Empire Criminal Defense for Your PC 71 Case?

  • Specialized Legal Expertise: Our PC 71 Ontario attorney’s deep understanding of the statute and related legal precedents equips us to craft defenses that address the unique aspects of your case.
  • Proven Defense Strategies: With numerous successful defenses against PC 71 charges, we bring a wealth of experience and a tactical approach to combating these serious allegations.
  • Commitment to Your Defense: Recognizing the potential consequences of a conviction, we are dedicated to offering an aggressive defense aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for you or your loved one.

Start Your Defense Journey Today

Facing charges under PC 71 requires immediate and knowledgeable legal intervention. Located in Ontario, CA, Inland Empire Criminal Defense is prepared to provide the experienced and specialized legal representation needed to confront these allegations head-on.

Contact Inland Empire Criminal Defense Now

Don’t leave your future to chance in the face of charges involving threats against officers. Reach out to Inland Empire Criminal Defense at 909-939-7126 for a free initial consultation. Our team is available 24/7 to answer your questions and begin crafting a vigorous defense strategy tailored to your specific case. Let us stand with you in defending your rights and securing your freedom.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Does the attorney offer confidential consultations?

Absolutely, Inland Empire Criminal Defense prioritizes your privacy and confidentiality. Every consultation with our attorney is conducted with the utmost discretion, ensuring your information remains secure and private.

Does the attorney offer payment plans?

Yes, understanding the financial pressures that can come with legal representation, our attorney offers flexible payment plans. This approach ensures that quality legal defense is accessible for all our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Is the consultation free?

Yes, Inland Empire Criminal Defense offers free consultations. This is part of our commitment to providing accessible and transparent legal services to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Are the consultations in person or only over the phone?

We offer both in-person and over-the-phone consultations to accommodate your preferences and needs. Whether you’re in Riverside, San Bernardino, or Los Angeles County, we ensure that you can access our legal services in the way that suits you best.

Is the office open on weekends?

Our office is typically closed on weekends. However, we do make exceptions for meetings by special arrangement. Our commitment is to be as accommodating as possible to meet the unique needs of our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Does the attorney serve all of California?

Our legal services are specifically tailored to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. For cases outside these areas, we recommend consulting to find appropriate legal assistance. Our focused approach allows us to provide specialized defense catering to the unique legal landscape of these counties.

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