Charged During Personal Crisis
We recently represented a young woman who was going through a deeply personal and devasting divorce with her husband. She was upset and distraught through many of the heated exchanges that occurred between the two of them. After one difficult argument, her husband went to the police. She was charged with uttering threats. Uttering threats is a Criminal Code offence. It is defined as knowingly uttering, conveying or causing any person to receive a threat. The threat can be to cause death or bodily harm to any person; to burn, destroy or damage real or personal property. Uttering a threat to cause death or bodily harm is the most common allegation. It was alleged that our client uttered a threat to cause death to her soon to be ex-husband. She came to us totally distraught. We immediately started working on a strategy to achieve the outcome she wanted, which was for the charges to be withdrawn.
In order to convict someone of uttering threats, the prosecution must prove all of the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. Potential defences arise if the accused can argue the alleged threat was not to cause bodily harm or death.
For example, the accused might be able to raise a reasonable doubt that the threat was made knowingly. The prosecution has to prove the mens rea element of the offence. This means that the prosecution must satisfy the court that the accused meant what they said and was intended to be taken seriously.
This defence was explained to our client. We explained that a judge would view the evidence objectively but would consider her subjective intent. We explained that we could advance this defence on her behalf, but that there were other steps we could take to steer this prosecution to a different path. Our client didn’t want to pursue the potential defence and instead instructed us to take a different path.
One must always consider that just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should. Our team has observed other lawyers and law firms advancing defences on behalf of clients when, objectively, there is a low chance of success. This happens, for example, when the client can’t afford the senior member of the firm. It can happen when the firm decides that a junior member needs courtroom experience. It can happen with lawyers who take a gladiator approach to the law. We do not do that. Our team listens to our clients. We determine what the client wants after they receive thorough and extensive legal advice. Once the client has that advice and understands the risk they face, then and only then, do we act. We do this because we do what’s best for our clients. We do this because we are serious lawyers who handle serious charges for our clients every single day.
In the end, our client’s charges were completely withdrawn. She didn’t go through any extrajudicial programs. She participated in her defence and the steps we asked her to take. That allowed us to convince the prosecutor that there was no public interest in the case to proceed. It was an excellent outcome for our client, and we couldn’t be happier that she is able to move on and put this entire mess behind her.
We are here for you just like we were for her. If you need us, contact us today.
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