Some people are surprised to learn that uttering threats is a criminal offence under Canadian law.

A conviction can have far-reaching consequences for your future, including a lifelong criminal record simply from uttering the wrong words (without even acting on them).

Uttering threats is a broad offence that is open to interpretation. If you are charged with this crime, it is important to seek advice from an experienced criminal lawyer so that you can start preparing the best possible defence.

We believe that one mistake should not impact your life forever. Speak to Cory Wilson at Wilson Criminal Defence. We have a strong record in successfully defending uttering threats charges in Calgary.


What is the offence of uttering threats?

If you knowingly utter, convey or cause any person to receive a threat, you may be charged with the criminal offence of uttering threats.

This is covered under section 264.1 of the Criminal Code

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.

Note that the offence not only includes threats to a person but to their property and/or animals too. Also, bear in mind that if you “convey” threats through a third party, this could also lead to a charge of uttering threats.

In some cases, rather than threats uttered to a particular individual, a charge is filed for threats made that could endanger public safety, such as planting a bomb or going on a mass shooting.

Such threats, and those made by criminal organizations, are treated especially harshly by the criminal justice system, even if they do not result in any subsequent criminal activity. 

Bail conditions

You can expect strict bail conditions for a charge of uttering threats, especially with regard to contacting the individual or individuals that the alleged threats were directed towards.

Law enforcement or a judge will normally stipulate that you must not contact or be in close physical proximity to the alleged victim(s) as a condition of your release from custody. 

Often, an uttering threats charge can relate to a domestic case. If the alleged victim is a partner, spouse, or another family member, a no-contact order can be especially stressful. 

Cory Wilson is experienced in working with the Crown prosecution to demonstrate that the accused is not a threat to the alleged victim and to secure reasonable bail conditions that allow some freedom during the period that the charges are processed by the justice system in Calgary.

We can even appeal no-contact orders at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary.

If you are issued a no-contact order and do breach your bail conditions (even if contact with the alleged victim was not initiated by you or was beneficial to the victim), the consequences are likely to be severe. 

Your actions may lead to new criminal charges being filed against you and you could be remanded in custody again without release on bail.

Defences for uttering threats

Even if you did utter words that could be perceived as threats, a skilled criminal defence lawyer like Cory Wilson will have several possible defences available to use.

Traditionally, threats are almost always uttered verbally between one individual and another. The testimony of the alleged victim will be the only evidence available. In these cases, a skilled lawyer can work on presenting a case that is more believable than the testimony of the complainant. 

Increasingly, however, threats are made through social media, voicemail, email, chat programs or text messages so there is more concrete evidence available.

Cory Wilson may be able to challenge the validity of the Crown Prosecutor’s case by questioning that you actually wrote or spoke the words.

In other cases, your Charter rights can be used to defend you by examining the process of your arrest and charge by law enforcement. Everyone in Canada has constitutional rights that must be observed and upheld no matter what the charge is against you.

The defence of “ambiguous language” may also be applicable in some cases. This is where an alternative meaning of the words uttered is plausible and, therefore, brings into question the perceived threat by the complainant.

Penalties for uttering threats

According to the Criminal Code:

Every one who commits an offence under paragraph (1)(a) is guilty of

  • (a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
  • (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

So, you could actually face jail time for uttering threats. You may also have to submit DNA to the federal database and may face a lifetime weapons ban.

In most cases, if you hire an experienced lawyer, it won’t come to this. Depending on the nature of the alleged threats, one option may be to try to convince the prosecution before the trial that a peace bond is preferable to proceeding with a criminal charge.

You may be eligible for entry into an Alternative Measures Program (AMP) whereby, if you successfully complete charitable donations, community service or a counselling program, you escape a criminal conviction.

The terms of a peace bond may include no contact with the alleged victim, depending on their wishes, and an alcohol or drugs ban if the nature of the alleged offence warrants it. 

Successfully completing a peace bond will mean that the charges against you are withdrawn and you will have no criminal record.

However, note that some threats are too serious for a peace bond or house arrest to be considered. 

Call Us to Arrange a Confidential Consultation

Do not underestimate the potential consequences of a charge for uttering threats.

Arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Cory Wilson by calling 403-978-6052 or emailing us here.


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Cory Wilson is a criminal defence lawyer based in Calgary. If you have been charged with a criminal offence or are a suspect in a criminal investigation, call today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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Tel: 403-978-6052