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Is Threatening Someone In The Heat Of The Moment A Crime In Ontario?

I had an adult male client recently who was charged at the Brampton courthouse with threatening his wife.  The threat was made in the heat of the moment during a verbal argument over whose turn it was to do the dishes.  My client then allegedly picked up a dull butter knife he was cleaning in the sink and screamed at the same time, “I’m going to kill you, stop arguing with me” and then dropped the soapy knife back in the sink.  His wife did not take this threat mildly and called 911 but hung up right away.  The police nevertheless showed up at the residence to investigate the dropped call to 911.  The story reluctantly came out from the wife and the police proceeded to charge my client with Assault with a weapon and uttering death threats, both contrary to the criminal code of Canada.  The wife was furious and advised that she did not want her husband arrested and charged.  How could this happen they both thought?  The simple and short answer is that uttering a threat to kill someone is a criminal offence in Canada.  In some cases you don’t even need to utter threatening words directly, but rather, make gestures and or innuendos.  In one case, an accused made a gesture of slashing his throat with his fingers towards another individual and was charged with uttering threats.  But the story does not end there.  Just because you may have uttered words that constitute on the face of it, the threat, does not mean that you will automatically be found guilty of a criminal offence.  In the case I had in Brampton, I successfully argued that the threat made by the husband to the wife was made in the heat of the moment and was never meant to be taken seriously.  It was said in frustration.  Furthermore, the wife knew that her husband would never hurt a fly and had no reason to fear him.  Her call to 911 and the subsequent hang up was evidence of this that she too took the dispute over dishes a bit too far.  For one to be found guilty of threatening, the Ontario courts have ruled that the threat must be made “knowingly” and “not recklessly”.   Also, the prosecution must prove that the accused intends that a threat be taken seriously.   In this case, my client was found not guilty on both counts.   In cases where there are findings of guilt or if the case against you is not great, there are usually favourable options available to you such as peace bonds and discharges so don’t despair. If you find yourself charged with threatening death in Ontario, please call Baratz Law at 905-789-9007 or email me at avi@baratzlaw.com for a free consultation.

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