Criminal Harassment in the Canadian Criminal Code

In the Criminal Code of Canada, Criminal harassment involves repeated behaviours by an individual that involves repeatedly following, communicating, besting or watching or engaging in threatening behavior towards another that causes that other person to reasonably fear for their safety or the safety of others known to them.  The offender must have the intention of harassing, frightening, annoying, or other actions displaying obsessive and unwanted conduct directed towards another individual without lawful authority.  In proving a criminal harassment case in Ontario, the Crown must establish that the accused has engaged any of the following conduct: 1) repeatedly following the victim or someone known to the victim; repeatedly communicating with the victim or someone known to the victim (either directly or indirectly); watching or besetting a place where the victim or someone known to the victim lives, works, carries on business or “happens to be”; or Employing “threatening conduct” towards the victim or a member of the victim’s family; 2) It must be established that the complainant was harassed; 3) It must be established that the accused who engaged in such conduct knew that the complainant was harassed or was reckless or willfully blind as to whether the complainant was harassed; 4) It must be established that the conduct caused the complainant to fear for her safety or the safety of anyone known to her; and 5) It must be established that the complainant’s fear was, in all of the circumstances, reasonable. It is not necessary for the Prosecutor to establish that the complainant was actually threatened, or that any actual injury, either physical or mental, was caused to the complainant as a result of the accused’s conduct. The Criminal Code of Canada requires that the harassment be without “lawful authority”. Therefore, if someone has a lawful reason to contact another person such as to enforce a family court order or a civil matter they would not be guilty of criminal harassment.

A person convicted of criminal harassment could face up to 10 years in prison. A conviction for criminal harassment may also lead to a criminal record, fines, probation and/or a restraining order being placed against the offender not to contact the victim of the harassment. In some cases, it is possible to avoid jail and a criminal record even if a person is found guilty of harassment. The nature of the offence and the personal circumstances of the offender will be considered by the judge at the sentencing hearing. If you are charged or under investigation for criminal harassment contact Baratz Law to schedule a free confidential consultation with Avi Baratz.