In Ontario, and every province and territory in Canada, making threats against another could result in being charged with the criminal offence, uttering a threat. This type of criminal offence is classified in the Criminal Code as an assault-type offence.
To be charged with uttering a threat, you must knowingly utter, convey or cause any person to receive a threat. In addition, if you threaten to destroy, burn, or damage their property, or threaten their pet, you could be charged with this criminal offence.
Whether or not a threat was made is viewed objectively, and depends on whether a reasonable person would consider the words uttered as being threatening.
Why Was I Charged When I Didn’t Plan to Take Action?
A common assumption people make is that it is okay to make a threat and it is not illegal, so long as they have no intentions of carrying out their threat. Yet, this is not the case. Whether you make the threat directly to the person or tell others your intentions, if someone perceives your intentions as genuine and reports the threat to the police, you could be charged with uttering a threat.
I Didn’t Make a Verbal Threat but Was Still Charged. Why?
A threat does not have to be made verbally to be considered a crime. Nonverbal hand gestures, facial expressions, or even text messages with emojis that imply you intend to cause harm, can be sufficient ground for being charged with uttering a threat.
Why Are My Friends and I Not Charged When We Joke Around Making Threats?
It is not uncommon for friends to joke and around and jest about making threats to one another. As long as your friend does not perceive your threat as an intention to cause them harm, or cause them to become afraid or scared of you, to the point where they file a complaint with the police, then you may not be charged.
The key thing to remember about uttering a threat is that someone must have perceived the threat as being serious, regardless of your intentions to carry out the threat.
What Happens If I Am Convicted for Uttering a Threat?
Depending on the type of threat made, a conviction could result in maximum jail time of two or five years imprisonment. You could also be fined up to $5,000. The sentencing is entirely up to the judge.
Furthermore, the criminal offence is recorded on your criminal record, which could have future impacts on your livelihood and employment opportunities.
If you have been charged with uttering a threat, you need to speak with an experienced Brampton criminal defence lawyer, like Manbir Singh Sodhi as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact our criminal defence law firm at (905) 457-2546 today!