What happens in Ontario when a victim files a criminal harassment report with the police? You know, normally I just talked about criminal law topics from the perspective of the accused, but I thought I’d do a victim oriented one because many people are reaching out online, both to me and online asking this question, so I’m going to walk you through the steps. If you’re a victim of harassment. So let’s say under Section 264.1 of the code is the charging section by the way.

Let’s say that you’re a victim of harassment. Someone’s watching you, following you around, threatening you, watching and besetting your dwelling house, whether it’s a spouse, whether it’s a friend, whether it’s a stranger, those are all forms of criminal harassing, stalking behaviors, also criminal harassment. So what should you do in those situations? What can you do? Well, first and foremost, it depends on the emerge and how threatening it is, if it’s happening right imminently you should call 911. But perhaps in other situations where you know you’re the light of day it’s not going on right now. You should perhaps phone in or tenure police station and file a report. I would gather a detailed statement yourself, wright everything down, go chronological order as much detail as possible.

Gather all the text, gather all the photos, wherever electronic evidence, video evidence you have, bring it to the police station. You’re initially going to meet with a police officer who’s going to take an initial occurrence report. They may refer it to a detective, depending on the severity of it or they may do it themselves. You’ll probably, have an interview where they do it on videotape either that day or another day as well.

And they’re going to also interview any other witnesses so write down the names of witnesses and provide that so you want to provide the police with all of the evidence. Now you might say the police, look you know, I don’t really want the person charged and that’s up to the police ultimately but if it’s a non-domestic In other words, it’s not your spouse or it’s not your significant other they may just warn the person , you dont want to charges but that’s up to them. If you file the report, they can proceed with it. It’s not up to you ultimately, but many police in that situation will just issue a warning if you don’t want to get involved in the criminal process. If it’s a domestic however, there’s directives they may lay the charge against your wishes. There’s directives that’s domestic related that’s important to know before you go down the police station.

So what happens then well, the police after they complete their investigation which may be completed that day, which may take a few days or one or a week or two weeks, depending on the complexity of it. They’re going to decide if they have reasonable probable grounds to charge the person if they do. They’re either going to arrest that person, likely arrest that person may get some of them. But I think in most instances to arrest them, bring them to jail, either release them on bail or bring them into a bail hearing or a JP to release them if they got no prior record. They probably get released. If they have a prior record. It depends on the severity, whether they’re held, but there’s going to be a no contact order.

That’s the beauty of it. Your hopefully, your problems are solved for now, pending the trial or their guilty plea. So now it’s then up to that person that once they hire a lawyer, they’re going to review the police reports. Maybe they’re going to have a trial in which you would have to testify and the crown would have to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. Hopefully they just plead guilty and then they be sentenced and you get a say at that sentencing hearing you get the final victim impact statement. I can tell you this there’s a full spectrum of sentences your criminal harassment, some form of harassment is very, very serious. It’s all serious, but it’s you know from innocuous multiple phone calls, which are causing some degree of fear right up to stalking which is causing psychological fear and danger for the person. I mean, at the one end the person probably wouldn’t face a jail term might even get a conditional discharge, that’s more rare for stalking behavior by the way, up to pretty significant jail term. So it’s a process. I mean, you know, the investigation stage might take some days, it might take a few weeks depending on the complexity. It might take several months if they decided to plead guilty , you got a noncontact order. After their sentence. There’s another noncontact order it could be up to three years if they get three years’ probation so that’s a great protective mechanism for you.

Or you have a trial in which the crowds can either hopefully prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. The person is going to be sentenced and again, there would be a noncontact order or they wouldn’t be allowed to show up at your workplace home or other residence and if they did you phone the police, they’d be arrested and charged with another criminal offense, could be facing really lengthy jail at that point. So there I just want to put out a video for victims to help you both about the process, there’s materials online.

The police are very good about this, their very compassionate. They have specialized people who deal with this so they know how to deal with these situations. And you can guide the police accordingly. I mean, you just want the person warned, and it’s a non-domestic you hopefully can do that. But it’s really out of your hands once you make the report but know this and I’m reiterating it again, if you’re a domestic situation the person the police are probably going to lay that charge if there are really probable grounds. And once those wheels of justice are set in motion, there’s not much you can do about it.

And the crowns have directives as well to prosecute those types of offenses. So there you have it in a nutshell from investigation right through to the end of the trial for the process for reporting a criminal harassment charge.

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