Defending Utter Threats Charges in Toronto

In Canada, it is important to understand that threatening someone, whether it be verbally or in writing, can result in serious consequences. In fact, uttering threats is considered a criminal offence under section 264.1 of the Canadian Criminal Code, and can result in fines, imprisonment, or both.

Quite often, allegations of uttering threats to cause bodily harm or death will arise out of a domestic dispute and also include other types of criminal charges including assault or mischief.  In these types of cases, a special approach is required which takes into account the future needs of the parties and the public interest in preserving family harmony. For more information on domestic assault cases, read here. 

Our lawyers have defended utter threats charges in all corners of the province and often appear in courts across the GTA in addition to the Toronto courthouses including Newmarket, Oshawa, Brampton, and Milton.

Daniel Brown is a criminal law specialist with extensive knowledge and experience defending against allegations of uttering threats. As such, he is often sought out by the media to comment on national and international stories on the subject. Daniel recently spoke with the Toronto Star about a high profile uttering threats case in the news.

The lawyers at Daniel Brown Law regularly defend allegations of uttering threats and threatening death or bodily harm.

Uttering threats charge carries with it serious consequences, including the potential for imprisonment. If you are facing charges of uttering threats, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defence lawyer.

Those looking for specific advice on an utter threats charge should immediately consult with Daniel Brown Law at (416) 297-7200 to discuss your case. The following article provides some key points to keep in mind when it comes to defending against uttering threats charges:

Frequently asked questions about utter threats:

What is the legal definition of a uttering a threat?

The definition of uttering threats is found in the Criminal Code at section 264.1. Generally anyone can be charged with uttering a threat if they utter, convey or cause any person to receive a threat:

(a) to cause death or bodily harm to any person;

(b) to burn, destroy or damage real or personal property; or

(c) to kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that is the property of any person

Under Canadian law, an utterance is defined as a spoken or written statement that conveys a threat to another person. In order to be convicted of uttering threats, the Crown must prove that you intended to cause the other person to fear for their safety or the safety of others.

What if the threat isn’t said directly to the intended target, but to a third person?

The accused need not utter the threat directly to the intended victim to be found guilty. The threat can be direct or indirect, and it can be made in any medium, including social media, email, or text message.  Furthermore, when the accused does not utter the threat directly but rather threatens to harm the intended victim to a third person, it is not a valid defence to argue that the accused did not intend that third person to communicate the threat to the intended victim for the crime to be established. Indeed, it is not even necessary for the intended victim to be aware of the threat in order to be found guilty of the offence.

What is required to prove a threat in court?

In Canada, the legal elements of an uttering threats charge are defined in section 264.1 of the Criminal Code. The Crown must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction for uttering threats:

The accused person made a threat: A threat can be spoken, written, or communicated in any other way that conveys a message that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others. The threat can be explicit or implicit, and can be conveyed in any medium, including social media, email, or text message.

The threat was made to another person: The threat must be directed towards a specific individual or individuals. The target of the threat does not necessarily need to be present at the time the threat was made, but the accused must have intended for the target to hear or receive the threat.

The accused person intended to cause the other person to fear for their safety or the safety of others: The Crown must prove that the accused intended for the threat to cause the other person to feel afraid. If the accused did not have the intention to cause fear, they may have a defence to the charges.

The threat was credible: The Crown must prove that the threat was credible, meaning that a reasonable person in the same circumstances as the alleged victim would have taken the threat seriously.

What if the recipient of the threat did not take the threat seriously?

When defending against uttering threats charges, it is important to consider the context in which the alleged threats were made. For example, if the threats were made during an argument or in the heat of the moment, this may suggest that you did not have the intention to cause fear. Alternatively, if the alleged threats were made in a more calculated or premeditated manner, this may be more difficult to defend against.

In law, all that is required is that the person making the threat intended the threat to be taken seriously. The fact that the person receiving the threat was not intimidated or scared does not constitute a defense to the charge of uttering threats.

What if the threat was impossible to carry out?

Even in a situation where the accused makes a threat he could not carry out i.e.: ” I will drop you from the top of the C.N. Tower”, he may still be found guilty of the offence. The central focus for the judge in deciding whether or not a threat was made will be on the maker’s intention when the words were uttered (was it meant to be taken seriously so as to produce a reaction of alarm or fear in the mind of the recipient) – not on the present ability to carry out the threat.

What are the consequences of an utter threats conviction?

If an individual is found guilty of an allegation of uttering threats in Canada, there can be serious legal consequences. Uttering threats is punishable by imprisonment, fines, or both.

The maximum penalty for uttering threats is five years imprisonment if the Crown prosecutes the offence by way of indictment. However, if the Crown prosecutes the offence by way of summary conviction, the maximum penalty is 18 months imprisonment. Additionally, fines may be imposed on top of any imprisonment sentence.

In addition to these legal consequences, a criminal record resulting from a conviction for uttering threats can have significant long-term consequences, including difficulty obtaining employment, housing, and traveling internationally. It can also impact an individual’s personal and professional relationships.

For individuals without criminal histories, the effect of a threatening bodily harm conviction on their livelihood, freedom, and future opportunities in life can be tremendous.

If you are facing charges of uttering threats, it is crucial to work with a criminal defence lawyer who has experience in this area of the law. Your lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, identify potential defences, and build a strong case on your behalf. They can also negotiate with the Crown prosecutor to seek a more favourable outcome, such as a reduced charge or sentence.

In conclusion, uttering threats is a serious criminal offence in Canada that can result in significant penalties. If you are facing charges of uttering threats, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defence lawyer who can help you navigate the legal system and build a strong defence. With the right legal support, it is possible to successfully defend against uttering threats charges and protect your rights and freedoms under Canadian law.

It is also important to remember that every allegation of uttering threats is a fact specific inquiry.  Call Daniel Brown Law at (416) 297-7200 to arrange a consultation about your case.