The UK Law on Making Threats to Kill
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What the Law States on Making Threats to Kill
Although the offence for making threats to kill may sound simple, there are lots of elements needing consideration when attempting to prove guilt.
Threats to kill is covered by section 16 of the Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA) 1861. It defines threats to kill as when “a person, who without lawful excuses makes to another a threat, intending that, that other would dear it would be carried out, to kill that other or a third person…”
Elements of the Threats to Kill Offence
The offence can be broken down into two aspects. Firstly, we have the mens rea (the guilty mind). This is where the induvial makes a threat to another person to kill them or another. And secondly, we have the actus reus (the guilty act). This is where the induvial intends that person to ear the threat would be carried out.
For the offence to be made out, both elements must be proven by the prosecution.
It’s important to note that the alleged offender does not have to have had an intention of carrying out the threats to kill but the person who received the threat must believe that there was true intention for the threat would be happen.
What is the Maximum Penalty for Making Threats to Kill?
Threats to kill can be heard at either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. This depends on how serious the offence is. The Magistrates Court is responsible for deeming whether the case is too serious for them to deal. This is because the Magistrates Court only has the power to sentence an induvial for a maximum of 6 months for a single offence. On the other hand, in the Crown Court, the maximum sentence of imprisonment for making a threat to kill is 10 years.
How is the Court’s Decision on Sentencing Determined for Making Threats to Kill?
The sentencing Council Guidelines determines that the sentence for making a threat to kill ranges from a community order to up to 7 years imprisonment.
Before deciding the sentencing, the court must determine the culpability of the offender. An ‘A’ class offence is where one of the following was present during the offence:
- the threat is made in front of a child.
- significant violence was used.
- a weapon was visible.
- There was sophistication or planning involved.
A class C (lower culpability offence) would be where the offender’s responsibility is reduced by one or more of the following:
- a mental disorder
- a learning disability
- where the offence was limited in scope and duration
Class B (medium culpability offences) fall in between the two categories.
Next, the court assesses the harm that the offender might have caused. Category ‘1’ offences are the most serious category. A category ‘1’ offence involves very serious distress, psychological harm or where the threat resulted in considerable practical impact on the victim.
On the opposite end of the scale a lower category ‘3’ harm would be where little, or no distress was attributed to the victim.
A level ‘1’ class ‘A’ offence starts at 4 years imprisonment with a range of 2-7 years. A level ‘3’ class ‘C’ offence often results in medium range community order with a range of low-high level community order.
What Are the Legal Defences?
For a solid legal defence, you must be able to prove that the threat to kill as made lawfully. For example, a threat would be made lawfully if it was made in self-defence or prevent assault, or crime. The court will determine if the threat was made in reasonable circumstances.
Seeking a Criminal Defence Solicitor
If you have been accused of making a threat to kill, it’s vital you seek advice from a criminal defence solicitor. At Cartwright King, our criminal defence solicitors can assist you with:
- Whether the prosecution will be able provide proof for the case.
- Whether you have a defence with the help of our solicitors.
- What the sentencing guidelines are and what mitigation might be put forward to lower the class and category of the offence.
At Cartwright King, our criminal defence solicitors are here to support those facing a threat to kill charge. To discuss your charge, please call our solicitors on 03458 941 622 or get in contact us using our emergency line, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for emergency advice.
All advice is correct at time of publication.