Elements of the Offence
The offence of uttering a threat falls under the larger category of assaults. Pursuant to section 264.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada, uttering a threat requires two elements. The first element is the act of committing a threat, which can be achieved in one of three ways, either (1) knowingly uttering, (2) conveying, or (3) causing person to receive a threat.
The second element required is that the threat must be (1) to cause death or bodily harm, (2) to burn, damage or destroy a person’s real or personal property, or (3) to kill, poison or injure an animal belonging to that person.
The threat need not be directed at a specific individual. It is sufficient that the threat is directed at a member of an identifiable group of people.
The Objective Test
Whether a statement is a threat or not, the words used must be viewed objectively taking into account the circumstances and the context in which they were spoken. The question is whether, when viewed objectively, did the words that were spoken convey a threat of serious bodily harm to a reasonable person.
Words which are spoken under circumstances where they could not be taken seriously cannot be viewed by a reasonable person as words that convey a threat. The words spoken must be viewed as meaning to intimidate or that they be taken seriously.
Penalty for Uttering a Threat
The penalty for uttering a threat to cause death bodily harm carries a maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment on summary conviction and a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment for an indictable offence.
With respect to uttering a threat to cause damage to real or personal property or to an animal, the maximum penalty for a summary offence is a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or a term of imprisonment of not more than 6 months.