Actions Which May Constitute Harassment
Conduct considered to constitute criminal harassment includes;
- Repeatedly following a person from place to place.
- Repeatedly communicating with a person directly or indirectly.
- Besetting or watching the residence or place of employment of a person.
- Engaging in threatening conduct directed at a person or at one of their family members.
Although the term ‘repeatedly’ is used in this section, our courts have held that a single incident can constitute threatening conduct. Our courts have also held that harassment should not be interpreted restrictively, and that requests and solicitations can constitute conduct that might be considered criminal harassment.
A person accused of engaging in any of the conduct listed above must have known the other person was harassed or that he or she was reckless as to whether the other person was harassed. On this basis, there exist a defence of an honest mistake, however the honest mistake must be reasonable in all the circumstances.
Any of the above conduct must have caused the complainant to fear for his or her safety or the safety of any other person known to the complainant. The test with respect to the fear expressed by the complainant is whether the complainant’s fear is reasonable in all of the circumstances.
Penalty for Criminal Harassment
Upon summary conviction, the maximum penalty for criminal harassment is a fine not exceeding $5,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months. When the Crown has proceeded by indictment, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.