Uttering Threats. Once in a while, we all mutter things under our breath to express our frustration. When those angry mutterings take on an air of reality, however, they carry with them serious criminal consequences.
The crime of Uttering Threats is defined in S. 264 of the Criminal Code as:
“264.1 (1) 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.”
This means that your text messages, phone conversations, and late-night exhortations are all capable of landing you in jail if they fall within this meaning, harming a person, property, or a pet.
It is an essential element of this crime that the accused indents for the words of intimidation to be taken seriously. The words that are uttered must be taken in the context of all the evidence that is presented at trial, the location of the parties, whether they were together or separate, their relationship to each other, and all of the alleged circumstances. The trial judge must put it all together and decide whether the threat was real, or weather one was merely frustrated to have lost at Monopoly.
Uttering Threats is another hybrid offence, sometimes called an “offence triable either way.” This means the Crown can elect whether to proceed summarily or with an indictment.
The maximum sentence under indictment for a conviction under s. 264 (1) is five years in prison. An accused who is convicted of uttering threats in a case where the alleged victim is a spouse, or where the alleged crime involved a firearm or imitation firearm is also subject to a mandatory weapons prohibition.
If you or someone you know is charged with uttering threats, it is important to retain a lawyer.