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Toronto Threats Charges Lawyer

Section 264.1: Charges of uttering threats to cause death, bodily harm or damage to property in Toronto, Canada

Evidence, seriousness, consequences and punishments, and impact of alcohol (drinking) in utter threats cases in Canada

Most people are shocked to realize they can be charged with a criminal offence just because somebody tells the police they said something threatening. All it takes is one person to point the finger at you and say “he or she said X (threatening statement)” and the police will charge you. Toronto, Peel, York, and Durham police departments almost always proceed with utter threats charges based on one sentence allegations.

But there is no evidence because nobody recorded what was said?

Those unfamiliar with the criminal justice system often don’t understand that “evidence” in most cases involves nothing more than witness testimony. If someone takes the stand and testifies that you made a threatening statement, that in itself is considered evidence.

The vast majority of uttering threats related cases involve nothing more than one person saying a statement was made and perhaps additional testimony about the background of the complainant, the accused, and their relationship. There is evidence in these cases. The only question is whether or not a judge would believe it to be true at a trial.

How serious is it to be charged for uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm?

Uttering threats is a criminal offence in Canada that can result in a criminal record, jail, probation, and other punishments. Anyone who is charged is also having their information collected and shared by the charging police force, including in the RCMP CPIC database. This CPIC database is accessible to US customs and can cause problems with US travel for the accused. Additionally, like any other criminal charge, threats related charges can cause problems with Canadian immigration (work permits, permanent residence, and citizenship) applications, police background checks (including vulnerable sector screenings), and membership in professional societies.

Since 100% of the population is vulnerable to being accused of saying threatening things, often well-adjusted people with families, careers, and no prior history of charges or police contact are those who are charged. These charges often result from a 911 call in the middle of a heated argument. One of the first questions the police ask is whether any threatening statements were made. Often a spouse will tell the police what was said without realizing the seriousness of the situation.

People without prior records make up the majority of our clients and for them the potential consequences are tremendous.

Could I go to jail or to a federal penitentiary for making threats?

Like any charge in the criminal code, jail is a potential penalty upon conviction. For most of our clients, who are often being charged for the first time, the more realistic concern is the prospect of getting a criminal record (often with probation). Depending on the nature and totality of the case, even a first timer could see the Crown Attorney seek jail in certain circumstances. A penitentiary sentence (two years or more in custody) would be extremely unlikely absent an extensive prior record.

What are some aggravating factors in utter threats cases?

  1. threats made against children, the elderly, mentally disabled, or vulnerable people
  2. a history of repeated threats
  3. the specifics of what is being said itself
  4. threats made to adults in front of, or in the presence of, children
  5. the presence of a weapon
  6. the accused having a history of charges, a prior criminal record, or prior contact with the police
  7. alcohol and drug related circumstances (can sometimes also be mitigating (ie. work in the defandant’s favour))
  8. threats made against public officials, political figures, or other authority figures
  9. threats involving extortion or other related charges
  10. threating statements made in the domestic context (husband, wife, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.)
No criminal case is the same, and matters are dealt with differently by different Crown Attorneys across the various courthouses in the GTA.

The totality of the circumstances are considered by the Crown Attorney

In evaluating their position it is not just the threatening statement itself that is considered. Instead, the Crown Attorney will examine the background and circumstances of both the accused and alleged victim in evaluating the case. If a 60 year old man is sending offensive text messages to a 17 year old girl calling her a “whore” and a “slut” and then threatens to slash the tires of her car, this could be seen as a serious charge. While the threat is to property (car) and of a relatively low value, the overall circumstances are offensive and would lead the prosecution to likely seek a criminal record and possibly jail.

Conditional threats? Threats with a condition attached “if you don’t..., I'll...”

Often the alleged threat is attached to a condition, such as “if you don’t pay me my money, I am going to kill you”, or “if you don’t pay my my money, I am going to break your windows” (threat to property). Defendants often believe these are not threats because they are attached to a condition, however they can be used to support a conviction if believed by the trial judge.

TThese types of utterances could also be used to support a conviction on an even more serious charge of extortion. Just because a threat is conditional does not mean you won’t be found criminal liable at a trial.

Will the Crown always drop or withdraw utter threats charges?

No. Ultimately, it is the Crown's decision whether to prosecute the accused. The main factors that Crown Attorney's look at in determining whether to prosecute include:
  1. the accused's criminal history (if any);
  2. whether the accused has other charges pending;
  3. the nature of accused's relationship and history with the victim;
  4. the seriousness of the case, including the specifics of what was said and to whom;
  5. the presence of alcohol or drug use
  6. the accused admitting responsibility for what happened at an early date
It is important to have a criminal lawyer negotiate your case on your behalf as it is sometimes possible to persuade the Crown prosecutor to withdraw threats charges even in cases where they first intend to prosecute. Some prosecutors are less willing to agree to withdraw charges than others and every courthouse in the GTA functions differently.

It is extremely important that your lawyer has significant case experience at the courthouse your case is being heard at in order to increase the chance of getting the charges dropped.

What if the Prosecutor refuses to drop the charges?

If we are unable to get the Crown Prosecutor to agree to drop the charges our focus switches to finding another resolution that does not involve you obtaining a long lasting criminal record, such as an absolute or conditional discharge.

The issuance of a discharge is ultimately the Judge's decision based on the prior case law and criteria for a discharge enumerated in the Criminal Code. Discharges are not always given just because the individual is a first time offender. The defence must work to convince the judge that it is warranted and in the public interest.

Even if the Crown opposes a discharge or takes no position, the sentence is always up to the trial Judge. On numerous occasions we have successfully obtained discharges for clients even in cases where the Crown opposes it.

Call us today.

You don't have to jeopardize your future or waste thousands of dollars on excessive legal fees. We provide effective and affordable lawyer representation for those charged with uttering threats in the Toronto area.

Have a skilled criminal lawyer who focuses on threats charges protect you and your future from the stigma and consequences of a criminal record.

    call us: 647-228-5969


  call us: 647-228-5969


Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Ontario. For more information about our lawyer, click here.

We provide our clients with:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • US travel advice and information
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Clear goals of getting charges dropped and bail conditions varied without a trial
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Experienced, focused counsel

* Please note:

If you are not a paying client, we cannot answer questions and provide assistance with US travel, immigration, employment background checks, and avoiding a criminal record. This includes those who have already retained other counsel and those whose cases have already been completed.

We only can take calls/emails relating to Ontario, Canada area cases. Please see our FAQ for a listing of the courthouses we service.

Are you a lawyer? If you are defending an utter threats related case and are looking for expert advice regarding possible defences, case strategies, and information release management call us at: 647-228-5969.

Please note: We do not accept legal aid certificate cases. All clients are handled on a private retainer only.


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  More Information:

  We provide:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • US travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • A clear goal of getting the charges dropped without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Timely resolutions
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel