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UTTERING THREATS

R. v. Clemente, [1994] 2 S.C.R. 758 CL

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The intent required under s. 264.1(1)(a), which is aimed at preventing "threats", can be framed in either of the two ways put forward.  Firstly, a serious threat to kill or cause serious bodily harm must have been uttered with the intent to intimidate or instill fear.  Conversely, such a threat uttered with the intent to intimidate or cause fear must have been uttered with the intent that it be taken seriously.

Section 264.1(1)(a) is directed at words which cause fear or intimidation.  No further action need be taken by the accused beyond the threat itself.  The meaning conveyed by the words is the important factor.  


Whether the accused had the intent to intimidate, or that his or her words were meant to be taken seriously will, absent an explanation by the accused, usually be determined by the words used, the context in which they were spoken, and the person to whom they were directed.


It is not a necessary element of the offence that the intended victim be aware of the threat.  


The actus reus of the offence is the uttering of threats of death or serious bodily harm.  


The mens rea is that the words were meant to intimidate or to be taken seriously.  


Words spoken in jest or in such a manner that they could not be taken seriously could not lead a reasonable person to conclude that the words conveyed a threat.


Jim O'Neil, LL.B.

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