Many people accused of uttering threats in Toronto are surprised that they are charged with a crime.
Quite simply, they were not aware that uttering threats can be a criminal offence in Canada.
If you have uttered serious threats to another person and they have contacted the Toronto Police Service and filed a complaint, the police are duty-bound to investigate the alleged crime.
What is considered uttering threats in Ontario?
Uttering threats is classified in Part VIII of the Criminal Code of Canada as an Offence Against the Person and Reputation.
More specifically, it is considered a form of assault.
Every one commits an offence who, in any manner, knowingly utters, conveys or causes 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.
The most common charges relate to uttering death or bodily harm threats against another person.
If the alleged victim files a police complaint you may be charged with this offence if you:
Knowingly uttered serious threats to the person
Conveyed or caused the person to receive a threat
There does not need to be a motive for the threat and you can be charged even if you had no means to carry it out.
Nor do you need to say anything in order to be charged. Threats delivered through mobile phone apps or social networking sites are now considered as valid as threats delivered verbally in face-to-face situations.
Even a physical act like making a throat-slashing gesture to someone can be considered a threat and is a chargeable offence.
Likewise, you can be charged with uttering a threat if it is not aimed at any particular individual but instead at an unidentifiable member of a particular group.
A conditional threat is also a chargeable offence. This is when you threaten to take action if the other person does not follow your orders.
In Toronto, charges of uttering threats often accompany other charges, such as domestic assault or criminal harassment.
Potential consequences of being convicted of uttering threats
In order to achieve a conviction, the Crown Prosecution will need to prove that you:
Uttered the threats knowingly and intentionally
Caused the threats to be received by the alleged victim
You intended to create fear in the alleged victim
The judge will consider whether a reasonable person would interpret your words, messages or actions as threatening death, bodily harm or damage to someone’s real or personal property.
If convicted, your sentence for uttering threats will depend greatly on the circumstances of the crime.
There is considerable leeway for the prosecution with such crimes and the Crown Attorney may pursue a summary conviction or an indictable one.
What is the sentence for uttering threats?
The Criminal Code states that for an indictable offence, there may be a prison term of up to five years.
Most offences of uttering threats will proceed as summary convictions. The punishments in these cases may include:
A maximum jail term of 6-24 months
A $5,000 fine
A lifelong criminal record
Having a criminal record may affect your future employment, travel prospects, residency status (for non-Canadians), and other aspects of your future.
This, of course, makes escaping a conviction very important.
By retaining Mukesh Bhardwaj, you will be assured of a strong defence to a charge of uttering threats.
Can the Crown withdraw uttering threats charges?
The Crown Prosecution can withdraw the uttering threats charges against you if it feels that there is not enough evidence to lead to a conviction.
Trials are expensive and time-consuming. Unless there is a reasonable chance of a conviction, the charges will be withdrawn.
This is preferable for most defendants and relatively common with charges of uttering threats as they are quite challenging to prove.
Note that once a criminal charge is laid against you, the police cannot withdraw the charge even if the complaint against you is withdrawn. Only the Crown Attorney has the authority to do that.
The complainant may even be subpoenaed as a witness and have to appear in court against their wishes.
How can a criminal lawyer help you with uttering threats charges?
Charges of uttering threats are notoriously difficult to prove for the Crown prosecution. You should never enter a guilty plea if charged.
A skilled defence lawyer like Mukesh Bhardwaj, who is experienced in such cases, can often get the charges dismissed, defend you aggressively and successfully in court, or get the consequences of a conviction reduced.
The strongest defences generally focus on the context of the threat, provocation, or mistaken identity. Each of these defences can raise a reasonable doubt about your guilt.
You may be able to apply for a peace bond if you have been charged with uttering a threat.
Whether the Crown Attorney agrees to this is debatable, especially if the alleged threat is very serious or there are other extenuating circumstances, such as a prior criminal record that includes violent crime.