Death Threats Defence Lawyers

Being charged with a criminal offence can be a very unsettling and stressful experience. This stress may be compounded where the accused is not familiar with the criminal justice system or is being charged with an offence for the first time. It is important to protect your rights from the outset of being accused of committing a criminal offence. In many cases, the most effective way to do this is to hire experienced legal counsel to assist and help you navigate through the process.

In many cases, an uttering threats charge will be laid in conjunction with another charge, often an assault charge. Uttering death threat offences typically arise in the context of a disagreement or fight between two parties that devolves into threats and/or violence. In some cases, uttering threats charges are laid in conjunction with a criminal harassment charge or in the context of a domestic dispute.

Regardless of the circumstances behind the charge, those who are convicted of uttering threats may face serious consequences. An individual who is convicted could face a prison sentence, probation, community service, fines and/or restitution and could receive a criminal record. A criminal record could lead to other complications for the accused including issues attaining employment in certain industries, being unable to volunteer in certain industries, difficulty traveling outside of Canada, and the social stigma that may accompany a criminal record.

It’s not uncommon for those charged with uttering threats to be also charged with domestic related offences. These may include assault, domestic assault and mischief. If a person is charged with uttering a threat in a domestic context, they will likely be prosecuted by dedicated team of domestic prosecutors in the relevant jurisdiction.

Due to the serious consequences that may result from a conviction for uttering threats, it is important to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process. Donich Law can assist you in developing a strong defence for your case. We also have experience negotiating with the Crown to secure a favourable outcome for our clients without having to litigate the matter at trial.

Having a complete understanding of the Elements of the Criminal OffenceYour Rights and the Consequences associated with a Criminal Record is necessary before any legal decisions are made.

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Legal Information

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Uttering Threats?
How does the Crown Prove an Uttering Threats Charge?
How to Defend an Uttering Threats Charge?
What is the Penalty for Uttering Threats?
Threats to cause death or bodily injury to any person
Damage to real property or injury to animals

Additional Resources

Assault
Assaulting a Peace Officer
Sexual Assault Law in Canada
Consequences of a Criminal Record
Domestic Abuse
First Offenders
Immigration Consequences
Keeping Charges Private
Travel & US Waivers
Vulnerable Sector Screening
Elements of a Crime
Your Rights

What is Uttering Threats?

The offence of uttering threats is outlined in section 164.1(1) of the Criminal Code. The Code states that an individual is guilty of uttering threats when they, in any manner, knowingly utters, conveys, or causes any person to receive a threat to

  • Cause death or bodily harm to any person;
  • Burn, destroy, or damage real or personal property; or
  • Kill, poison, or injure an animal or bird that is the property of any person.

This definition provides that it is a criminal offence to threaten to injure or kill any person or an animal belonging to a person, or to damage their real or personal property.

How does the Crown Prove an Uttering Threats Charge?

The offence of uttering threats is drafted quite broadly to catch a wide variety of behaviour. To prove the offence, the burden lies with the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence as charged. The Crown must prove all elements of the offence to gain a conviction.

Specifically, the Crown must prove the date, time, and jurisdiction where the offence occurred and the identity of the accused. The Crown must prove that the accused individual uttered, conveyed, or caused another individual to receive a threat to cause death or bodily injury to any individual, to cause damage to real or personal property belonging to any person including an animal or bird belonging to any person. Finally, the Crown must prove that the accused intended to make the threat.

How to Defend an Uttering Threats Charge?

As with any criminal offence, the burden lies with the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence as charged.  The accused is under no obligation to present any argument or evidence. If the Crown is unable to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the accused cannot be convicted

Where the Crown’s case is more robust, the defendant may need to present a defence. The correct strategy will be unique to the facts of the case and the particular allegations being made. The best strategy is to consult with legal counsel to ensure all of your rights are protected throughout the process.

Donich Law has experience defending those charged with an array of violent offences including assault, uttering threats, criminal harassment, and domestic assault. We can help you develop the best defence strategy for your case to ensure you are happy with the outcome.

What is the Penalty for Uttering Threats?

The sentences imposed on individuals convicted of uttering threats will depend on the type of threat made, the seriousness of the threat, the criminal history of the accused and any other relevant factors.

Threats to cause death or bodily injury to any person

The offence of uttering threats to cause death or bodily injury to any person is a hybrid offence. Upon reviewing the case file, the Crown will elect to proceed either summarily or by indictment, depending on the nature and severity of the allegations.

Where the Crown elects to proceed summarily an accused who is convicted will face a maximum of two years less a day in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine. Where the Crown elects to proceed by indictment, an accused who is convicted will face a maximum of five years in prison. Where the Crown elects to proceed by indictment there is no limitation period and charges may be laid at any time.

Damage to real property or injury to animals

The offence of uttering threats to burn, destroy, or damage real or personal property or uttering threats to kill, poison, or injure an animal or bird that is the property of any person is a hybrid offence. Upon reviewing the file, the Crown will determine whether they want to elect summarily or by indictment, depending on the severity of the allegations.

Where the Crown proceeds summarily, an accused who is convicted will face a maximum of two years less a day in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine. Where the Crown elects to proceed by indictment, an accused who is convicted will face a maximum of two years in prison. Where the Crown proceeds by indictment there is no statute of limitations and charges may be laid at any time after the alleged incident.

Quick Facts

Can I go to Jail for Uttering Threats?

In some cases, yes. The Criminal Code provides a maximum sentencing range of two to five years in prison for those who are convicted of uttering threats. Generally, prison sentences are reserved for more serious cases or where the accused has a criminal history.

What is the Maximum Penalty for Uttering a Death Threat?

The maximum penalty that may be imposed on an individual convicted of uttering death threats is five years in prison. As outlined in section 264.1(2)(a) an individual who is convicted of uttering death threats may be sentenced to up to five years in prison where the Crown proceeds by indictment.

What if I Threatened to Damage someone’s Property?

An individual who threatens to cause damage to another individual's real or personal property will be guilty of uttering threats to burn, destroy or damage real or personal property under section 264.1(1)(b) of the Criminal Code. If convicted, such an offender will face a maximum of two years in prison.

What if I am a First-Time Offender?

Individual’s convicted of uttering a threat as a first-time offender may be afforded some lenience on sentencing depending on the nature and severity of the allegation. The courts generally view being a first-time offender as a mitigating factor.

What if I did not Intend to Threaten anyone?

To gain a conviction for uttering a threat, the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intended to threaten the complainant. If the Crown is unable to prove that the accused intentionally made the threat, the court will not convict the accused.

What if I Threatened to Injure someone’s Pet?

An individual who threats to cause injury to an animal or bird belonging to another individual will be guilty of uttering threats to kill, poison, or injure an animal or bird that is the property of another person under section 264.1(1)(c) of the Criminal Code. Such an offender will face a maximum of two years in prison if convicted.

Can I get Probation for Uttering a Threat?

Yes. In less serious cases or cases where the accused is a first time offender, the court may impose a period of probation upon conviction.

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