Criminal Harassment Lawyer In Toronto
What Is Criminal Harassment?
The criminal harassment charge was introduced to deter stalking and other forms of harassment. It’s one of the most sternly investigated and prosecuted allegations in Ontario, and it carries severe penalties upon the finding of guilt.
It encompasses actions directed to cause fear and annoyance through harassment and any other behaviours that portray obsession and unwanted conduct towards a person. Acts that constitute criminal harassment do not have elements of threatening to cause bodily harm or any physically abusive behaviour. However, criminal harassment charges can be laid alongside such criminal offences.
For more details, let’s take a look at a part of the relevant provisions provided by section 264 of the Criminal Code of Canada:
264(1) No person shall, without any 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 circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.
What Are the Grounds for A Harassment Charge?
For the police to charge you with criminal harassment, your alleged conduct must give the complainant a good enough reason to fear for their safety or that of someone close to them. In most cases, the charge is laid after the complainant explicitly warns the accused to stop the behaviour, but they fail to do so. However, in some circumstances, the charge can be placed after only one incident without requiring a pattern of behaviour. Keep in mind that this type of offence does not require an outcome to be considered a crime.
The prohibited conduct that constitutes criminal harassment and lays the ground for criminal charges is provided in section 264 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The Act sets out that:
264(2) The conduct mentioned in subsection (1) consists of:
- repeatedly following from place to place the other person or anyone known to them;
- repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them;
- 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
- engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family.
If you’re charged with criminal harassment for allegedly perpetrating one of the mentioned acts, it’s advisable to retain a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto. They’ll protect your interests and come up with a defence plan based on the particulars of your case.
How Do You Prove Criminal Harassment?
For a successful criminal harassment conviction, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The accused continuously engaged in prohibited conduct as stipulated by section 264 of the criminal code, including following the complainant, watching the place they frequent, continually communicating with them, or employing threatening conduct to them or their loved ones. Note that in some cases, one incident of prohibited behaviour constitutes criminal harassment.
- The complainant was being or felt harassed by the accused party. By being harassed, it means that they felt continually troubled, tormented, and worried.
- The accused knew that their conduct made the complainant feel harassed or was reckless or willfully blind to how the complainant perceived their behaviour.
- The complainant genuinely feared for their safety and that of their family due to the accused’s conduct.
- As per the circumstances, the complainant’s fear was reasonable
If the prosecution fails to establish any of the above statements, or the defence raises a whim of reasonable doubt, the charges won’t hold.
At Zamani Law, we utilize our criminal law and trial expertise to create valid defences that, depending on the facts of the case against you, may raise reasonable doubt.
What Is the Sentence for Criminal Harassment?
Criminal harassment is a hybrid offence. This means that the prosecution gets to elect to proceed by way of indictment or summarily. The way the prosecution chooses to proceed determines the severity of the penalties you’ll face upon conviction.
Subsection 264(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides the sentence for criminal harassment as follows:
- Up to 10 years in prison for indictable offences
- Up to 2 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine for a summary offence
Although the Criminal Code doesn’t give any mandatory sentences, a judge can impose a harsher sentence even for a first offence when aggravating factors, such as being in a peace bond when the alleged offence occurred, are present. Other factors that play a role during sentencing include the personal circumstances of the offender and the nature of the alleged crime.
Note that apart from possible jail time, a criminal harassment conviction leads to a criminal record, which affects the rest of your life.
At Zamani Law, we strive to ensure that our clients don’t end up with a criminal record or jail sentence. Where possible, we negotiate with the prosecution to withdraw or reduce the charges against you and fight for other forms of punishment, such as a community-based sentence.
If you’re charged with criminal harassment, don’t plead guilty! The potential consequences are severe and long-term. Contact Zamani Law, and our experienced criminal defence lawyers will be there to protect you and fight the charges against you.
How Can You Fight Harassment Charges?
Every criminal harassment case is unique, and, at Zamani Law, we handle it as so. We analyze every detail of the case against you and devise feasible defence strategies with the best possible outcomes. One of the most common and preferred strategies is attacking the elements required by the prosecution to prove the allegations against you. These elements include the alleged act, identity, the accused’s intentions, and whether the complainant had reasonable fear.
If you or someone you know is facing criminal harassment charges, call us at (647) 931-9335 to schedule a free review of your case.
Contact Zamani Law for Your Free Consultation
Criminal harassment charges have the potential to ruin your life and reputation. Don’t take chances by trying to take responsibility for an alleged offence, even if you believe or know that you have done nothing legally or morally wrong. Therefore, if you’re charged with a criminal harassment charge, contact an experienced attorney to protect your rights and freedoms.
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