Some people make threats to others not knowing they could, in fact, be committing a criminal offence. The Criminal Code of Canada has a specific section that defines the criminal offence of “Uttering Threats.” Also, the use of or threat of force can even be considered “Assault” without even touching anyone. A person can be charged just for stating they are going to physically assault another if they instil fear when making the threat.
There are several specific types of threats, where one could be charged with a criminal offence, as follows:
- Threatening to cause bodily harm or death to another.
- Threatening to cause death or harm to another’s pet (animal or bird) that is considered their property.
- Threatening to destroy, damage, or burn personal or real property owned by another.
Keep in mind the threat does not have to be verbally to the intended recipient. In today’s Internet and mobile device age, email messages, text messages, video messages, and postings to online social media sites, which are considered threatening, could result in being charged with this criminal offence. In addition, the threat can be expressed to others and does not have to be made directly to the intended individual.
For instance, you and your partner break up and you are angry because they broke up with you. You tell your best friend you are going to “make them pay” for what they did. Your best friend believes your intentions are real and relates the threat to your ex-partner. In turn, your ex-partner contacts the police because they believe you intend to follow through on the threat. At this point, the police would investigate the claim and if they have reasonable and probable grounds to arrest, you could be charged.
It is worth mentioning you do not have to carry out the actual act you threaten to do when committing Uttering Threats. In most cases, the accused never carries out the act, however, those around them have a strong belief that the person will actually follow through on the threat. As a result, it could result in being charged with this offence.
On the other hand, threats made in jest (in a joking manner) to others are normally not criminal offences. Rather, the person or people, who hear the threat know you well enough to realize you have no intention of actually carrying out the act, so they do not consider there is any risk to themselves or the person you made the threat against, like if your newspaper delivery person always leaves the paper where it gets wet. You could joking tell your spouse you are going to kill them if they do it again. In reality, you have no actual intention to kill your newspaper delivery person, but are simply joking about the newspaper being wet, yet again.
Please note the above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as actual legal advice.
If you or someone you know has been charged with Uttering Threats, it is highly recommended to contact a qualified and experienced criminal defence lawyer in Toronto, like Jeffrey Resiman. Call 647-351-HELP (647-351-4357) now to schedule a free case evaluation and consultation appointment.