High court rules threats of violence can be used for dangerous offender status

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that threats of violence in themselves are a form of violence and can be used to determine whether someone should go to prison indefinitely.

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that threats of violence in themselves are a form of violence and can be used to determine whether someone should go to prison indefinitely.

The court has overturned lower-court rulings in the case of John Steele, a Winnipeg man with a long criminal history, who was convicted in 2010 of robbing a drugstore.

Steele told the cashier he had a gun, even though there was no evidence he had one.

The Crown sought to have Steele declared a long-term or dangerous offender, based on a section of law that says an attempted use of violence can qualify someone for such status.

But the trial judge and the Court of Appeal ruled the threat of violence did not qualify as an attempted use of violence.

The high court has overturned those rulings and has ordered that Steele be assessed for dangerous or long-term offender status.

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