WHAT IS UTTERING A THREAT?
Uttering a threat requires that the person knowingly uttered or conveyed a threat, or caused a person to receive a threat. A threat can be any words, written messages, or actions that threaten bodily harm, death, or damage to real or personal property or any injury or death to any animal belonging to that individual. This can include something conditional on the person doing something or omitting to do something.
Therefore, you do not have to actually verbalize a threat to be convicted of this offence. For instance, making a throat slashing gesture, depending on the circumstances, can be perceived as uttering a threat.
WHAT IF I DID NOT MEAN TO THREATEN THE PERSON?
What you say you meant by the words or action may not matter at all, or matter very little. Whether a reasonable person would interpret your words, messages, or action as threatening is the test that the courts apply in these circumstances.
There are defences to uttering a threat, however. The seriousness of the conduct and the context in which the threat was relayed are factors that may raise a reasonable doubt. Identity may also be an issue if a threat occurs in a crowded place such as a bar.
WHAT MUST THE CROWN PROVE IN THIS CASE AND WHAT IS THE PENALTY IF I AM FOUND GUILTY?
The Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly uttered or conveyed a threat and that the words, messages, or actions when viewed by a reasonable person do indeed convey a threat.
The penalties in these cases mostly depend on the circumstances. At Bernstein Law Group, we strive to have uttering threats charges withdrawn, perhaps by way of a peace bond. If, however, resolution of these charges is not possible, the Crown proceeds by indictment, you are found guilty at trial, and you are charged with threatening to cause death or bodily harm, then the maximum penalty is five years imprisonment. If the Crown proceeds by summary conviction and you are found guilty, you can receive a maximum of eighteen months in jail.
For other threats, such as threats to a person’s property, the maximum sentencing on indictment charges is two years, and six months for summary convictions.
DON’T WAIT TO CONTACT A LAWYER
Uttering threats is serious. If you have been charged with uttering a threat, you should contact a lawyer immediately. A conviction for uttering threats may make it difficult for you to find employment or travel. You can contact Bernstein Law Group for a free consultation with our criminal lawyers to review your case.
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