What is considered a threat under the Criminal Code of Canada is very broad. The most common are the charges of “Uttering Death” and “Uttering Bodily Harm”. A person can be charged of Uttering Threats if he knowingly utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat. The threat must be serious, there does not have to be a motive for the threat and the accused does not have to have the means of carrying out the threat. The threat itself may be a threat to cause physical harm, death, or to damage, burn or destroy personal or real property.
Threats Lawyer in Brampton
Criminal Code of Canada – Definition of Utter Threats
264.1 (1) Every one commits an offence who, in any manner, knowingly utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat
- to cause death or bodily harm to any person;
- to burn, destroy or damage real or personal property; or
- to kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that is the property of any person.
In determining what constitutes a “threat”, the Courts will adopt the viewpoint of a reasonable person. In R. v. Evans,  O.J. No. 244, the Court affirmed the Supreme Court of Canada’s reasoning in R. v. McRae, 2013 SCC 68: “To conclude on this point, the prohibited act of the offence of Uttering Threats will be made out if a reasonable person fully aware of the circumstances in which the words were uttered or conveyed would have perceived them to be a threat of death or bodily harm.”
This means that even if the recipient of the threat doesn’t subjectively take the threat seriously, or even if they don’t understand it as a threat, one can still be charged and convicted under section 264.1(1). Thus, the Crown “need not prove that the intended recipient of the threat … [were] made aware of it, or if aware of it, that he or she was intimidated by it or took it seriously.”
In terms of the mental element required for this offence, one does not need to actually intend to carry out the threat, or even intend that the recipient actually hears/receives the threat. The mens rea of Uttering Threats is simply an intention that the threat be taken seriously, or an intention to intimidate the recipient. The Crown does not need to prove both intentions to satisfy the mental element; either one will suffice. In R. v. Evans,  O.J. No. 244, the Respondent had gotten out of a relationship, then had a motor-vehicle accident with his ex-partner. As a result of that accident, the Respondent faced a number of driving-related charges, and suffered considerable injuries requiring medical attention. He was heard by a surety threatening to kill his ex-partner. However, given the circumstances, and the testimony of the surety, it was found that the Respondent did not actually intend for those threats to be taken seriously; rather, he was just “blowing off steam” after a particularly rough patch. Thus, the Respondent was found not guilty at trial, and this result was upheld on appeal by the Crown.
However, just because threats are made when somebody is angry does not mean they will always be interpreted as “blowing off steam.” It all depends on the specific facts of each case. One crucial element in Evans was the fact that the ex-partner was not around to hear the threat. If she had, it might have been inferred that the accused had intended for her to hear it, and thus intended for her to take it seriously. In R. v. Berhane,  O.J. No. 5354, the accused was going through a separation with his partner. He requested some medical information regarding their children, which his partner did not provide him with. This caused a heated argument, during which the accused stated that he was going to kill her and chop her up into little pieces. The accused argued that his ex-partner was not actually intimidated by this threat. However, he was still found guilty, as it was not the Crown’s burden to prove actual intimidation; it was sufficient that he only intended to intimidate her.
Why should you hire Passi & Patel for threat related offences?
If you are faced with a charge of Uttering Threats, don’t plead guilty without first speaking to an experienced Brampton criminal lawyer. If the Crown proceeds by indictment, the maximum sentence one could face if found guilty is 5 years of imprisonment. If the threat is to a person’s personal, real or animal property, and the Crown proceeds by indictment, the potential penalty is imprisonment for up to two years. As you can see, if the threat is of serious nature, the consequences may be very serious not only to yourself, but also to your family and your livelihood. This is why it is crucial that you hire a Brampton criminal lawyer that has experience in defending charges of “Utter Threats”. Here at Passi & Patel, our Brampton criminal lawyers have what it takes to get you the results that you need. Contact us today at (905) 459-0004 for a free, no obligation consultation. One of our Brampton criminal lawyers would be happy to meet with you to discuss your case.
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