In Canada on a charge of Uttering Threats, the prosecution must persuade the court beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That the accused uttered, conveyed or caused a person to receive a threat AND
- That the accused knew that they were uttering a threat AND
- That the threat was to:
- cause death or bodily harm; or
- damage property; or
- kill or injure their pet (animal)
If the defence lawyer raises a reasonable doubt with respect to any of these considerations, the court must acquit the accused.
At the trial on an allegation of Uttering Threats the court must assess whether, objectively, a reasonable person would have concluded that the accused intended the threat to be taken seriously. Unlike Criminal Harassment, the prosecution does not need to prove that the target of the threat was even made aware of it.
A threat made on a condition (e.g. “open your door or I will blow your house down”) is also considered a criminal offence under this section of the Criminal Code.
When the prosecution proceeds by indictment, the maximum penalty allowed in law is five years imprisonment if the threat was to cause death or bodily harm.