According to section 264.1 of the Criminal Code, to utter, transmit or cause to be received by a person a threat constitutes a criminal offense.

The Criminal Code speaks of three types of threats:

(1) threats of death or bodily harm to someone;

(2) threats to burn, destroy or damage property; and

(3) threats of blessing, poisoning or killing an animal or a domestic bird.

However, all threatening words do not equate to a crime. Only in certain specific cases could a person be found guilty of this offense. The expression » bodily harm » includes important psychological injuries. 

The person concerned by the threats made

It is important to know that it is not necessary for the threats to be directed to a particular person; it is enough for the threat to be directed against a particular group of people.

You could also be charged with threats, even if you did not communicate directly with the plaintiff. Indeed, the offense specifies that a threat may be uttered by any means whatsoever. You could therefore make threatening remarks through a third party.

In addition, the prosecution does not have the burden of showing that you intended to give the threat. As a result, the complainant may never have received the threats and still file a complaint against you.

You said menacing words, but you did not think them?

It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that you intended to carry out your threats. Indeed, it is sufficient to show that the threatening words were intended to intimidate or to be taken seriously. The fact that you did not intend to put them into effect is in no way a defense.

Moreover, the prosecution does not have to show that the person targeted by the threats actually felt intimidated by them or took them seriously. You only need to prove that you intended these threats to have such an effect.

Possible consequences

If you are convicted of threats to cause death or bodily harm, you are liable to imprisonment for up to five years.

The maximum term of imprisonment is two years if you are found guilty of threatening to burn, destroy or damage property or have threatened to kill, poison or injure an animal owned by someone.

Possible defenses

As mentioned above, the prosecution must prove that you intended the threats to be taken seriously. You could thus seek to raise a doubt as to the seriousness of the remarks. Indeed, a joke or innocent threat could not constitute an offense under the Criminal Code.

Since threatening language is also an essential element of the offense, you may also try to cast doubt on the very existence of the statement.

Various defenses could apply according to your file and our experienced lawyers will be able to target those which prove to be the most advantageous. You have been accused of uttering threats? Do not hesitate to contact Riendeau Attorneys-at-law!