What is Criminal Harassment?
To put it in its simplest terms, criminal harassment occurs when a person repeatedly stalks, watches, follows attempts to contact or otherwise harasses another person. The person must know, or would reasonably be expected to know, that the alleged victim does not wish to have any contact with that person. The victim must fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person, such as a child. The fear must also be reasonable based upon repeated behaviour of the accused person.
What are some examples of Criminal Harassment?
Examples of criminal harassment include;
- Repeatedly calling and/or leaving voicemail messages for someone who does not wish to talk with you or have any contact with you.
- Repeatedly following or stalking someone from place to place.
- Repeatedly watching someone at their place of residence, employment, school or anywhere else in the community.
- Repeatedly sending text messages, Facebook messages, etc. to someone who does not wish to have contact with you.
How is Criminal Harassment Different from Uttering a Threat?
Criminal harassment does not require that you actually utter a threat or threaten violence to someone. Simply following or stalking someone could be enough to constitute criminal harassment.
Can I get a Peace Bond?
Whether a peace bond is offered will be dependent upon the Crown Attorney and to a lesser degree, the opinion of the person you are alleged to have criminally harassed. In circumstances where the person simply wishes not to have any contact with you and/or you don’t have a criminal record, a peace bond may be an appropriate resolution. A lawyer should only recommend you accept a peace bond where there is a factual basis for the offence and the Crown Attorney can prove its case.
Is there a Danger to Accepting a Peace Bond?
Yes there can be. A peace bond in these circumstances will have a condition that you not have any contact with the person you have allegedly harassed. Sometimes this condition of the peace bond may allow for contact with the other person if he or she gives written revocable consent in advance. If the person you are alleged to have criminal harassed is someone you frequently have contact with such as a co-worker, any such condition could put you in a position where you could easily breach the condition of your peace bond. A lawyer can help ensure a peace bond is prepared so that it doesn’t put you in a position that you could have future problems.
What Defences are available?
Criminal harassment requires repeated behaviour that causes the alleged victim to reasonably fear for his or her safety or the safety of someone else. If you did not repeatedly engage in the alleged behaviour, or the fear the person holds is not reasonable in the circumstances, or you were not aware that the victim did not wish to have contact with you, all of these circumstances could be used to raise a defence against a criminal harassment charge.
What is the Penalty for Criminal Harassment?
On summary conviction, the maximum penalty you can receive is 6 months in jail. If the Crown Attorney proceeds by indictment, then the maximum penalty you can receive is 10 years in jail.
I’m charged with Criminal Harassment. What do I do?
If you are charged with criminal harassment the first thing you should do is call a criminal defence lawyer.
You should also make every effort to avoid this person and not have any contact with them, even if that person attempts to contact you. It is bad enough you are charged with criminal harassment, but you did not need to be charged with breaching a condition of your bail. The fact that the person initiates contact with you is not a defence if you continue to communicate with them.
You should make notes of all the occasions you had contact and communication with the other person during the period of time when you are alleged to have harassed them. Write down any details regarding the context of the contact and communication you had with this person. All of this information can be helpful for a lawyer in determining how your case should be resolved.
If you have been charged with Criminal Harassment call me today or email me and arrange a free 30-minute consultation.