When violent threats are not really threats.


When violent threats are not really threats.

Criminal charges from violent threats

Threatening another person with violence can include:

  • Threats to inflict serious injury; or
  • Threats to kill.

However, it is not always the case that the threat can be proved by police beyond reasonable doubt.

Elements of the offence

  1. The accused made a threat to the complainant to inflict serious injury/or kill upon either the complainant or another person;
  2. The accused either:
    1. intended the complainant to fear that the threat would be carried out; or
    2. was reckless (in that they probably should have known) as to whether or not the complainant would fear that the threat would be carried out; and
  3. The threat was made without lawful excuse.

The grey area - only serious threats matter

At first it may appear that these are difficult charges to defend as it is easy to be reckless in making a threat. If you think about environments where passions run hot such as football games, or even out socialising with friends and have had a few too many drinks.

However the circumstances and the nature of the relationship between the victim and accused person is important. If a relationship between two persons is dysfunctional and words such as "do that again and I'll kill you" becomes between the two people, then the threat is not a threat that would attract a criminal penalty.

Words in the context of the relationship matter which means that only serious threats can be successfully prosecuted.


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