What is Uttering a Threat?
Uttering a threat requires that a person knowingly utter a threat, convey a threat, or cause a person to receive a threat.
What is considered a Threat?
A threat is any words, written messages or actions that threaten bodily harm, death, damage to real or personal property, or any injury or death to any animal belonging to that person. A threat can include those that are conditional on the person doing something or failing to do something.
Can I be charged with Uttering a Threat if I didn’t say anything?
Yes. You do not have to actually verbally utter a threat to be convicted. Uttering a threat can include any written threats, including threats through text messages or Facebook. A physical act could also constitute uttering a threat, such as by doing a throat slashing gesture towards someone.
I wasn’t serious about the threat, why am I charged?
The fact that you did not intend to carry out a threat does not matter. What is important is whether a reasonable person would interpret the words, message or actions as threatening death, bodily harm or damage to real or personal property.
I didn’t specifically threaten anyone. Why am I charged with Uttering a Threat?
You do not have to threaten anyone directly to be convicted of uttering a threat. You can be convicted where you utter a threat at a member of an identifiable group.
Can I get a Peace Bond?
A peace bond may be available if you have been charged with uttering a threat. However, the Crown Attorney may not agree to a peace bond if the threat is very serious or if there are other circumstances which would not make it appropriate to resolve your matter with a peace bond. For example, if you had a prior conviction for uttering a threat or you had a bad criminal record it is not likely the Crown Attorney will agree to a peace bond.
Are there defences to Uttering a Threat?
Yes there are defences. The seriousness of the threat and the context in which the threat was made are factors that may raise a reasonable doubt. The Crown Attorney must prove that you knowingly uttered or conveyed a threat. The Crown Attorney must also prove that the words, message or actions when viewed by a reasonable objective person do convey a threat.
Identity can also be issue in some cases. If a threat occurs in a crowded place such as a bar, the person may hear someone utter a threat but not know specifically who it was. If the threat is a written communication the Crown Attorney must prove that you were the person that caused the message to be sent.
What is the Penalty for Uttering a Threat?
Depending upon what is threatened will determine what the maximum penalty is. If the person threatens death or bodily harm to another person and the Crown Attorney proceeds by indictment, then the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment. Where you receive a summary conviction for uttering this kind of threat you can receive a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail.
For all other threats, such as to a person’s property, the maximum penalty you can receive where the Crown Attorney proceeds by indictment is 2 years in jail. Where the Crown Attorney proceeds summarily the maximum penalty you can receive is 6 months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
I called the police because I was scared but I didn’t want to get the person charged. How do I get the police to drop the charge?
Once a criminal charge is laid, the police do not have the discretion to drop the charge. Only the Crown Attorney has the authority to withdraw a criminal charge. Even if you do not want to proceed with the charge, the Crown Attorney may elect to proceed and you may be subpoenaed as a witness.
I have been charged with Uttering a Threat. What do I do?
If you have been charged with uttering a threat you contact a lawyer immediately. Call me or email me today if you have been charged with uttering a threat. I will meet with you free of charge for an initial 30-minute consultation.
A conviction for uttering a threat may make it hard to find employment and could make your life difficult if the person you threaten is someone you regularly have contact with, such as a co-worker or a classmate.
You should also make notes about the context in which the alleged threat was made. Is something that was said in jest or that cannot possibly be taken seriously? Did the other person provoke you causing you to utter a threat? The context in which the alleged threat was made can be important in determining how the charge against you is resolved.