According to Section 264 of Canada’ Criminal Code, criminal harassment is one of the offences that are often the resultant of former domestic relationships or forceful initiation of romantic relationship by a person. Other than that, frequent disputes between co-workers, neighbors or business associates may lead to criminal offence. Even, some individuals may be accused of criminal harassment if their behavior is not good with others as well. What else is important to consider while declaring someone accused of criminal offence? Let’s find out:
Actions Leading to Criminal Harassment
Under Section 264 of Canada’s Criminal Code, following actions may cause the person to face criminal offence charges and call a criminal lawyer Toronto to handle them:
- Following someone from one place to the other
- Repetitive communication with someone directly or indirectly
- Watching or besetting the dwelling place where someone works, lives, happens to be or carries on business
- Initiating threatening actions for a person
Actions Transforming into Criminal Harassment
The above mentioned conducts do not constitute to criminal harassment until these 4 factors are present:
- Feeling of harassment by the complainant
- The person doesn’t know that his/her conduct was wilfully or recklessly harassing the complainant
- The complainant doesn’t feel safe
- He/she feels reasonably fearful
Ways to Defend Criminal Harassment
The first and foremost thing is to appoint the Crown Attorney to oversee the burden of proving the elements of criminal offence. In some cases, identity of the accused may become an issue where it’s a bit difficult to point out the person engaged in the harassing behaviour. Once it is clear, the Crown Attorney would be in a position to prove that the complainant felt harassed by the conduct.
So, to be clear, the criminal harassment offence is defended in accordance with:
- The accused was reckless or unaware of the behaviour of the complainant, thereby affecting his/her safety.
- The complainant’s fear for safety isn’t reasonable in any circumstances. So, while considering whether the person feels fearful or not, the judge will then examine the circumstances based on specific conduct affecting his/her safety.
Here, the thing to mention is that criminal harassment is, unfortunately, not considered as an offence for which, the Crown Attorney has to prove intentions and deliberate actions of harassment. Rather, they only have to prove recklessness conduct towards another person. Though, it’s necessary to look at the facts associated with the defence of honest mistake. When stuck in such situation, the person has to prove that he/she was sure about not causing any harm or harassment to the complainant. Make sure that the surrounding factors are also in favour so that the judge and declare actions as mistaken and honest belief.
Criminal Harassment Penalty
Based on a summary from a criminal lawyer Toronto, criminal harassment forces the person to face 6 months jail penalty or a $1,000 fine or sometimes, both. However, if the Attorney works on indictment, then penalty may last for 10 years of imprisonment.