The lawyers at Stern Shapray have extensive experience representing clients charged with Criminal Harassment and reaching favourable outcomes for them. It is vital that one charged with this offence seeks out the legal advice of an experienced criminal lawyer in order to put forth the best possible defence(s) before the Court or pursue alternate ways to resolve the matter without going to trial.
When assessing whether to hire a lawyer when charged, it is important to first be aware of the legal consequences in the event one is found guilty of Criminal Harassment.
There is no statutory minimum sentence the accused will be subjected to if found guilty. If the charge is prosecuted summarily, the maximum jail sentence an accused can receive is 2 years less a day, with or without a fine of $5000. If the charge is prosecuted by indictment, the maximum jail sentence an accused can receive is 10 years. Less extreme forms of sentence are available under both summary and indictable proceedings, such as absolute discharge, suspended sentence, fine with or without probation, and intermittent sentence.
That being said, the particular sentence imposed on an accused will largely depend on the aggravating and mitigating circumstances of the case, such as the seriousness of the allegations (if proven) or any criminal record of the accused.
Elements of Criminal Harassment
For an accused to be found guilty of criminal harassment, the Court must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that each of the following requirements has been met:
- The accused engaged in the one or more of following forms of conduct:
- Repeatedly following the complainant or someone known to them;
- Repeatedly engaging in direct or indirect communication with the complainant or someone known to them;
- Besetting or watching over a place where the complainant or someone known to them is likely to be; or
- Engaging in threatening conduct toward the complainant or their family member(s),
- The accused knew or had been reckless toward whether the complainant had been harassed by the aforementioned forms of conduct, and
- The complainant reasonably feared in the circumstances for the safety of their own or someone known to them.
There are various ways in which charges of criminal harassment can be defended. This is ideally accomplished by raising a reasonable doubt toward one or more required elements of the offence, such as
- identity of the accused,
- the accused’s intention,
- whether or not the accused engaged in one or more forms of the prohibited conduct,
- whether or not the alleged act amounted to harassment,
- whether or not the complainant had a reasonable fear in the circumstances, or
- the truthfulness of the complainant’s allegations.
Additionally, the accused can bring Charter challenges before the Court as a defence, if their constitutional rights were violated during the investigation or arrest.
For reference, the offence of Criminal Harassment is outlined in the Criminal Code as follows:
264 (1) No person shall, without lawful authority and knowing that another person is harassed or recklessly as to whether the other person is harassed, engage in conduct referred to in subsection (2) that causes that other person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.
(2) The conduct mentioned in subsection (1) consists of
(a) repeatedly following from place to place the other person or anyone known to them;
(b) repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them;
(c) besetting or watching the dwelling-house, or place where the other person, or anyone known to them, resides, works, carries on business or happens to be; or
(d) engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family.
(3) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
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