People v. GonzalezAnnotate this Case
At issue was whether Defendant’s hand gesture unaccompanied by words or sound qualified as a “statement, made verbally” under Cal. Penal Code 422. Section 422 makes it a crime to threaten infliction of great bodily injury or death on another “with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat….” The trial court dismissed the criminal threat allegations against Defendant, concluding that the hand gestures could not constitute criminal threats as defined by section 422. The court of appeals reversed the dismissal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a threat made through nonverbal conduct falls outside the scope of section 422; and (2) Defendant’s conduct did not constitute a verbal communication merely because he intended to convey an idea through his conduct.