Uttering threats is a common occurrence in every society. From school fights to workplace discrepancies and domestic clashes, threats make a way into every heated conversation in one way or the other. However, when uttering such threats, people rarely mean what they say. For instance, if your spouse angrily tells you that they will kill your dog if you don’t keep it quiet at night, it does not necessarily mean they intend to do so.
But if you are not careful, your words can easily get you into trouble with the judicial system. In Canada, uttering threats is taken very seriously. The criminal code of canada explicitly addresses common threats and their consequences to emphasize the matter’s seriousness. Thus, even if you do not intend to execute your words, the mere idea of inflicting fear on someone can get you behind bars.
As apparent from the discussion above, uttering threats is a severe act of assault, and you should never take its charges lightly. For this reason, you must always seek legal counsel from a reputed assault defence lawyer in Edmonton when facing charges for uttering threats.
In order to help you better assess the circumstances you may encounter when facing such charges, this blog post will take a deeper peek into the offence of uttering charges.
What Constitutes As Uttering A Threat?
Surely, many of you believe that you can’t get into trouble until you physically attack a person. What you do not know is that mere words can land you in a position you least expect. You might think that screaming, “I am going to break your legs if I see you around!” was just a result of an outburst. Contrarily, the person to whom you directed these words may take them seriously, and before you realize it, you are notified of charges of uttering threats against you.
According to Section 264.1 (1) of the Criminal Code:
“Everyone commits an offence who, in any manner, knowingly utters, conveys, or causes any person to receive a threat.” Clearly, threats constitute more than mere words. Even messages on social media, gestures and other such acts translate as threats if the action passes all subjective and objective tests.
For a clearer understanding, the Code further divides uttering threats into three main categories:
- Threats to cause death or bodily harm to a person
- Threats to destroy or harm real or personal property
- Threats to kill, injure, or harm an animal or bird belonging to another person
As per our emphasis earlier, your intention is meaningless if the victim takes your words seriously. Moreover, even if your intention was to merely scare the victim and not actually do what you said, you are still guilty of an offence.
Thus, the matter of threatening someone is not as light as people perceive it to be.
What Does The Crown Have To Prove?
The mens rea element of the offence forms the basis of a possible conviction for uttering threats. In a literal meaning from Latin, mens rea stands for ‘a guilty mind’. In legal terms, we call this criminal intent. Hence, the crown has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you actually intended to scare or intimidate the victim.
The Crown will have to prove that the following three conditions existed:
In this case, the Crown will use a subjective assessment of a bystander to determine whether a threat was actually made. From a reasonable third person’s view, the court will scrutinize whether a person fully aware of the circumstances at hand when the words were uttered would consider them threatening.
Reception By The Victim
The next thing is to confirm whether the victim received the threat and how it was taken. This point is basically an extension of the one above to ensure that the victim actually received a threat.
Intention To Intimidate Or Foist Fear
Lastly, the Crown has to prove that at the time of the offence, you wanted your words to be taken seriously and actually intended to frighten or intimidate the victim (the mens rea). Unlike the first point, here, the Crown examines how other people listening to you would perceive the words to establish your subjective intent.
Consequences Of A Conviction
Although the sentencing will depend upon whether the court proceeds with a summary or indictment, you may face a jail penalty of anything between two to five years. Similarly, the reputational damage and employment issues when the charges are being held against you will be truly horrifying.
An Assault Defence Lawyer’s Possible Defences Strategies
While the system seems to be a bit inclined towards the victim, it does not mean you must give in and plead guilty. As a defence against such offences, a reputed criminal defence lawyer will have come up with numerous ways to try to clear your name and rid you of such charges.
Although every case differs, the primary difference against uttering threats charges is to prove that one of the aforementioned three conditions does not exist.
Get a free consultation to see where you stand.
About The Best Assault Defence Lawyers In Edmonton
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