Criminal Harassment

Criminal Harassment

The offence of criminal harassment is outlined in section 264(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of criminal harassment when they, without lawful authority, cause someone to fear for their safety:

  • by repeatedly following them or someone they know from place to place;
  • by repeatedly communicating with them or someone they know;
  • by watching the residence, workplace or other current location of the person or someone they know; or
  • by engaging in threatening conduct directed at them or their family.

Examples

Person A runs into person B everywhere person A goes, despite person B living in another province and having a court order to stay away from person A. Person A fears for their own safety as a result.

Person C keeps texting person D. Person D has made it clear she no longer wishes to have contact of any kind with person D. Person D is scared for her safety.

Person E sends threatening letters and packages containing dead animals to the home of person G’s mother, causing person G to fear for his and his mother’s safety.

Cases

R. v. Kordrostami, 2000 CanLII 5670 (ON CA)

In R. v. Kordrostami, the accused was convicted of one count of criminal harassment for repeatedly calling a 14-year-old girl who had asked the accused not to call her.

R. v. Sim, 2017 ONCA 856

In R. v. Sim, the accused was convicted of one count of criminal harassment for creating and constantly updating a website listing biographical details and images of the complainant along with degrading sexual commentary about her.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

No Fear

Where the person does not cause the other to fear for their safety, they may not have completed the offence of criminal harassment.

Not Repeated

Where the person’s conduct is not repeated, they may not have completed the offence of criminal harassment. For example, where person A calls person B once and then stops, person A may not have completed the offence of criminal harassment.

Lawful Excuse

Where the person has a lawful excuse for their conduct, they may not have completed the offence of criminal harassment. For example, an officer watching a suspect’s home as part of a legitimate investigation has not completed the offence of criminal harassment.

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