The last thing any of us want to be involved with is the law, for any particular reason. As a society, we do our best to hold ourselves to a responsible standard as we traverse our daily lives. Sometimes, however, circumstances may arise that put us in a precarious situation.
Criminal charges can easily be laid against us, if a person feels that they have been threatened. If there comes a time that a criminal threat charge has been laid against you, you’ll have to take action quickly. It may seem like it doesn’t have legitimacy, but that is for the legal process to determine.
Here are the steps on how to beat a criminal threat charge against you:
1. Identify the type of criminal threat
First and foremost, it is important to define what constitutes an actual criminal charge. In a country such as Canada, most criminal charges can be found in the Criminal Code. Section 264.1 illustrates a threat as any form of communication that threatens to kill or cause physical harm.
In addition, this could include damage to a person’s property. Any violent action taken towards an animal owned by an individual also constitutes a criminal threat. It is important to distinguish what form a threat may also come in. No matter if it is in a written, spoken, or alternative format, it still can be perceived as a threat.
2. Understand the circumstances of your criminal threat
While the definition of a criminal threat remains stagnant, there are a multitude of other factors to consider if you want to beat a criminal threat charge. If an individual wants to report your alleged utterance of a threat to the police, they can do so. The threat doesn’t even need to be made directly to you. Some instances haven shown that these statements can be made to a third party, for example.
If an alleged threat was made in a public forum, this may also be enough to bring forth a charge. Whether or not the alleged threat was made is beside the point. If there is a criminal threat charge is made against you, you’ll have to get a criminal lawyer and prepare a defense.
3. Determine the legitimacy of the threat
This is probably one of the best defences used to beat a criminal threat charge. A good lawyer will try to argue that the statement was never made. Persuading the court that you indeed didn’t issue a threat will help to remove the charge laid against you.
This is where one of several dynamics will help to bolster your defence. Your lawyer should be able to find ways in which they can downplay the seriousness of the complainant’s statement. Questioning a witness, in essence, is the first step.
4. Check for unreliable witnesses
If a witness is called in to testify, your lawyer will more than likely go on the offense here. At times, a witness won’t be able to accurately recall events that included the alleged threat. For example, if there has been a significant amount of time passed, reasonable doubt can be brought up.
In some instances, if a witness does not remember or forgets the transpired events, charges can be dropped immediately. At other times, you may want to testify on your own behalf. This may work in your favour, allowing the court to properly understand your side.
5. Argue for credibility of the threat
Your lawyer may also be able to provide a defence of an alleged threat not being credible. If you do end up getting a criminal threat charge, the state of mind will heavily play into factor. To determine the legitimacy of a criminal threat, it needs to be made in a non-serious or joking manner.
Misinterpreting the statement when it was allegedly made is not grounds for a successful conviction. As such, the court may tend to favour you more, if the context proves that the statement was not serious. This is a very difficult part of the legal process, as details and perspective are imperative.
6. Defend for drunkenness
In very rare circumstances, you may be able to mount drunkenness as a defence against a criminal threat charge. However, like the defence before it, context matters. If something was said jokingly while intoxicated, it may not end up resulting in your conviction.
7. Use the online threat defence
When alleged threats are made over an internet forum, the poster is liable to a criminal charge. Your lawyer will have to argue that it wasn’t you who made the statement. Since it is quite difficult to trace a post made to a particular computer, a good lawyer will be able to raise reasonable doubt.
No matter what the circumstances are, criminal threat charges are not to be taken lightly. However, with a competent lawyer, reasonable doubt will be able to be made. The burden of proof rests with the Crown, so they have to legally prove you indeed did issue the alleged threat.