A charge of uttering threats can emerge in any situation where a person knowingly utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat. Uttering threats is a deliberately vague and broad section that includes threats to a person’s property and/or animals. While seemingly trivial, these charges can have serious consequences. If the Crown proceeds by indictment, the maximum penalty allowed is five years imprisonment if the threat was to cause death or bodily harm. Do not face these charges alone, contact us immediately for a free consultation.
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What is an Uttering Threats Charge?
In Canada, it’s an offense to communicate to another person that you intent to:
- Cause death or bodily harm to any person
- Burn, destroy or damage real or personal property
- Kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that is the property of any person
Threatening someone indirectly is also a crime, even if done via a third party. The threat need not make it back to the intended victim to be considered criminal. Moreover, some threats are serious enough that house arrest is not considered by the Crown. For example, if you utter a threat to public safety, such as blowing up a building or a mass shooting, the result may be significant jail time. Threats made on behalf of a criminal organization also incur a higher penalty.
Bail Conditions for Uttering Threats
It is not uncommon for specific bail conditions to be imposed when waiting for a charge of uttering threats to be resolved. Bail conditions may be imposed that the accused must not contact or be in physical proximity to the alleged victim(s). If the alleged victim is a family member or partner, this forced separation can cause extreme emotional stress. Ouellette Hoare Claxton are able to speak to the Crown and potentially demonstrate that you are not a risk to the alleged victim. We have a wide range of experience with domestic violence cases and have successfully appealed no contact orders.
How we Defend your Uttering Threats Case?
Besides winning your case at trial, Peter and Mike may be able to have your matter referred to alternative resolution options pre-trial. Ouellette Hoare Claxton may be able to convince the Crown that entry into a peace bond is the appropriate resolution to the charge. A peace bond typically contains conditions that may include counselling, completion and participation in counselling and depending on the circumstances of the allegations and the wishes of the complainant possibly no contact or abstention from intoxicants. On entry into the peace bond the charge will be withdrawn. If you comply with the terms of the peace bond you will have no criminal record.
Depending on the allegations you may be eligible for the Alternative Measures Program (AMP). An AMP discharge requires successful completion of charitable donations, community service or counselling. Call Andre Ouellette, Mike C. Gilchrist, Peter Hoare & Sadaf Raja now to discuss if your charge can be resolved without a criminal record.
Ambiguous language can be a valid defence where there is a reasonably credible or plausible alternative meaning of the words. If the threat you uttered was vague, Ouellette Hoare Claxton may be able to convince the Court that no threat was intended. For example, words such as “I’ll get you” in isolation are ambiguous and do not amount to a threat to cause harm. Our team can guide you through the process of determining if what you said constitutes a threat.
There are other factors which also can create reasonable doubts:
- The actual words spoken;
- The circumstances in which the words were uttered;
- The person to whom the words were addressed; and
- The speaker and that person’s situation.
Uttering Death Threats on Social Media
It has now become common that threats are made through Social Media (Facebook, Tinder) or other electronic mediums such as text messages (SMS) or email. In these instances, there is often a precise record of what was uttered. In these circumstances, Ouellette Hoare Claxton are often able to present an effective defence by arguing that you did not author the specific threatening emails, texts or private message (PM).
What is the Penalty for Uttering Death Threats in Canada?
Where the prosecution decides to proceed by indictable offense, the maximum penalty allowed is five years in a federal penitentiary (if the threat was to cause death or bodily harm). Other possible penalties include a lifetime weapons ban and/ or an order to submit DNA for the Federal database.