Under Canadian law, criminal harassment refers to various acts of stalking, such as repeated acts of watching, following, contacting, or threatening a victim. These acts involve unwanted attention from the person(s) who may later try to use force against the victim. Most people accused of stalking know the victim, but about 12 percent of cases in Canada involve a stranger.
The Criminal Harassment section of the Criminal Code was made generally to protect women, as 76 percent of victims are women, according to a 2002 sampling of 123 police forces in Canada. Eighty-four percent of the accused were male, with some cases involving more than one accused. When found guilty of criminal harassment, the punishment may include up to ten years in jail.
When Can I Be Charged With Criminal Harassment?
This offence does not need a particular outcome (such as physical injury, theft, fraud, or murder) to be considered a crime. Rather, what is generally taken under scrutiny is whether the behavior has been repeated over time and caused reasonable fear from the victim. Physical contact is not a requirement.
When charged with criminal harassment, the evidence must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
- The accused performed acts that constitute criminal harassment.
- The accused was aware of how the complainant might perceive their behavior.
- The complainant was genuinely afraid for their own safety or the safety of someone else.
- The fear experienced by the complainant was reasonable and based upon the repeated behavior of the accused.
If the defence raises any reasonable doubt in any of these statements, an acquittal must be put in order.
How Can I Defend Against Stalking Charges?
Criminal harassment is a hazy area under the Criminal Code and is therefore open to interpretation based on the context of the situation and how and where the accused is being prosecuted. Even a first offence could result in a conviction in the context of a prior history of abuse or violence.
Don’t just give up and enter a guilty plea to a criminal harassment charge! The consequences may be very serious and affect you for the rest of your life. As experienced trial lawyers, Kruse Law can successfully defend criminal harassment cases that would otherwise result in convictions.
If you are faced with a charge of criminal harassment, don’t limit your options. Contact us today to obtain expert counsel and a valid defence tailored to your particular case. If you have been charged with criminal harassment, your first phone call should be 1-800-699-0806.