Lawyers: Threating Messages, Then Revoked. Legallity?

Ontario Lawyers would help alot. Heres the case, recently, someone has been sending me quite a few threats over MSN Messenger, I’ve been saving them just incase something does happen so I have proof. Now my question is that if someone threatens me and then takes it all back and makes everything so sarcastic, can I still file complaints?

Not the exact wording but heres a sample.
Me: So you wanna fight me? I don’t want to fight.
Him: I’ve got it in for you, I hate you.
Me: <send him link for Canadian Criminal Code> Heres some light reading
Him: Oh, I take it all back, we’re best friends.

Can I get some advice?

IANAOL or even a L at all. WAG: Thinks to look at would be any anti-stalking laws (you describe “quite a few” threats), or a civil action for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Do you know who this per son is?

And to answer the OP, no. One cannot “undo” a crime that’s been committed. It’ll be up to a prosector to decide whether sending them in the first place is actionable or not.

One may renounce a crime in the midst of attempting it, or renounce a conspiracy before the aim of the conspiracy is met.

But once a threat is made, and it inspires fear in the person threatened, the crime is complete. It cannot be renounced. Check with a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for specific information on your laws, however, as this is not intended as specific legal advice for you.

  • Rick

While Bricker is correct in his assessment of the state of the law, I think you would run into a problem on the practical level. The fact the person who threatened you immediately recanted after you cited the statute could very well be used to prove, quote convincingly, he had not intended to threaten you at all. It is one of the hallmarks of on-line communication rather than face to face, that threats, especially of physical abuse, are somewhat less immediate and thus, less likely to reasonably be considered true threats. Add to that the fact that the person immediately recanted after hearing that you had taken it as a real, valid threat, and I think you would have a very tough time proving your case.

That being said, it never hurts to have a record of threats being made. Not being from Ontario, I have no idea how police officers reply to complaints of threats, but they may let you file a police report regarding the threats. Just don’t expect them to bust their humps investigating.

Just another opinion that is no way to be construed as legal advice.

In response to Hamlet: I think he only revoked those threats when he realized I was saving the conversation

I am a lawyer, not Qualified in Canadian law unfortunately, but in a similar commonwealth jurisdiction so I can perhaps give some general pointers.

Firstly, my condolences on being the victim of what sounds like a cowardly and menacing assailment.

Unfortunately it is difficult to give a firm answer without further information. As a starting point, and regardless of jurisdiction, there are some basic principles which can be distilled and are pretty much universally applicable throughout legal systems such as ours.

  1. You will need to show that his threats were accompanied by a real and immediate threat of physical violence. Was there an imminent prospect that the threats would be carried out? Obviously there is a vast difference between a threat originating from a workplace colleague down the hall than from a 15 year old youth in Nairobi.

In Cox, 957 F.2d at 265 the defendant telephoned a bank that had ordered the repossessing of his truck which contained some personal items, and said “I tell you what, you all better have my personal items to me by five o’clock today or it[’]s going to be a lot of hurt people there.” Here the threat was considered to convey the imminent prospect of execution (in part because his property could not have been returned by the five o’clock deadline).

  1. Can it be considered a true threat? To quote from The People v. B. F. Jones, 62 Mich. 304 (1886). "It is not the policy of the law to punish those unsuccessful threats which it is not presumed would terrify ordinary persons excessively; and there is so much opportunity for magnifying or misunderstanding undefined menaces that probably as much mischief would be caused by letting them be prosecuted as by refraining from it.

The sentences “I’ve got it in for you. I hate you” may or may not inspire terror depending on the totality of the circumstances. Does this person have a reputation for violence? What is the history of the relationship between you two?

  1. It may be that under Canadian law it is a general intent crime, in which case intent must be proved by objectively looking at the defendant’s behavior in the totality of the circumstances. So we would need to look at the circumstances surrounding the threats, for example, was the threat ‘out of the blue’ so to speak, or was it aimed at achieving some coercive end?

I’m afraid I’ve raised more questions that answers, but I would like to hear more from you concerning the general background and the exact nature of the threats made before commenting further.

I forgot to answer the issue of revoking the threat. Simply put, there is no magic formula to legally revoke a threat once its out there. So the question to ask is - is it reasonable that your are still in fear of an imminent danger of violence from his initial threats? In this case I’m sure that the answer is Yes. The reasonable person would conclude that his ‘revocation’ is entirely insincere since it was made only after you drew his attention to the Criminal Code.