Act First Safety

Uttering Threats Could Lead to Jail Time

In a precedent setting ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, a Manitoba man could be facing life in prison from the simple act of uttering threats to a drugstore clerk. In the unanimous ruling, it was decided that “All threats of violence are themselves violent, even though the seriousness of the violence may be quite limited.” The ruling further read, “By threatening to harm his victims while committing robbery [the defendant] used violence against them.”
John Steele, a career criminal from Manitoba was initially convicted of “the use of attempted violence” for the robbery of a drug store in 2010. When his crime went to trial, the Crown sought to get him designated as a long term offender or a dangerous offender but the trial judge and the Manitoba Court of Appeal denied the application.
Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the two Manitoba decisions stating that by merely telling a stranger, or threatening a stranger with bodily harm one is using violence against another person.
Under OHSA, the definition of workplace violence includes threats of violence. This landmark decision could change the way trial judges charge those who verbally threaten to harm others.

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