Toronto Criminal Harassment Lawyer
Criminal harassment, colloquially known as “stalking”, includes actions such as following a person around, making repeated direct or indirect contact with a person, watching a person’s home or place of employment, and/or engaging in threatening behaviour directed at a person or members of their family. Stalking is a crime that is charged under the Criminal Harassment statute. In Canada’s criminal code, there is no separate “stalking” offence.
Being charged with a criminal offence can be a devastating experience. Charges have been levelled against you, and they have the potential to tarnish your reputation. You are solely responsible for fulfilling your sentence if you are prosecuted and convicted. However, you are not obliged to go through a criminal prosecution alone. Instead, the best decision you can make right now is to get in touch with Karapancev Law. We can meet in either of our two offices, located conveniently in downtown Toronto and Mississauga, to provide you with a criminal defence overview and explain all of your legal options.
What is Criminal Harrasment
To be convicted of criminal harassment, the Crown Attorney must prove that the accuser felt harassed and that you knew your behavior would make them feel harassed. They also have to show that your actions caused the complaint to fear for their safety and that their fear was reasonable under the circumstances. To decide whether a complainant’s fear is reasonable, the court will first consider whether a reasonable person in the complainant’s circumstances would be afraid for their own safety or the safety of someone they know. They’ll also consider the complainant’s relationship to you and other facts surrounding their previous contact with you.
Criminal harassment relates to four categories of conduct that may cause the other person to reasonably fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them:
- Repeatedly following the other individual or anyone known to them from place to place;
- Communicating with the other individual or anyone known to them on a repeated basis, either directly or indirectly;
- Besetting or watching the home or place where the other person or anyone known to them lives, works, conducts business or happens to be; or
- Taking part in threatening conduct directed at the other individual or any member of their family.
There is no fixed number of instances that define “repeatedly,” except that the behaviour must be exceedingly frequent under the circumstances.
What are some examples of criminal harassment?
People commonly use the term “stalking” to describe what the law refers to as criminal harassment. A common example of criminal harassment is when a romantic couple breaks up, and one of the former partners approaches the other repeatedly.
Another example is when an accused calls a complainant several times because they want to address a dispute between them that the complainant is seeking to avoid.
Charges related to Criminal Harassment
Criminal harassment is considered a more serious crime when it co-occurs with any of the following associated offences:
- Domestic violence
- Mischief (damaging or destroying property)
- Uttering Threats
Criminal Harassment Penalties
Criminal harassment convictions can result in a criminal record, fines, probation, and, in some cases, up to ten years in prison. In many circumstances, if the accused is placed on probation, the Court will order that he or she have no contact or communication with the victim. The offender may be obligated to partake in counselling as a term of their probation.
If you are convicted of a crime in Toronto, you can expect the conviction to affect your life in more ways than just the court-imposed penalties. A criminal conviction leaves you with a lifelong criminal record that could impact the rest of your life. The following are examples of some potential collateral consequences:
- Employment related challenges
- Inability to work in certain regulated professions
- Ineligibility for immigration and deportation
- Inability to travel to certain countries
Criminal Harassment Defences
Many occurrences of criminal harassment are the result of a miscommunication or misunderstanding between the parties. Where one person sees the behaviour as harassment, the other may regard it as an attempt to mend fences, find closure, or resolve childcare issues.
Effective cross-examination can cast doubt on the complainant’s reliability, generating reasonable doubt. The Court must acquit the accused if there is reasonable doubt about any of the required elements of the crime. Showing that the accused acted reasonably in the circumstances of their case is a common strategy.
The harassment must also be done without “lawful authority,” according to the Criminal Code. As a result, if someone contacts another person for a lawful reason, they are not guilty of criminal harassment. For example, enforcing a child access and visitation order issued by a family court would not be considered criminal harassment.
A Powerful Defence
Contact Karapancev Law if you have been charged with criminal harassment. We are a skilled Toronto law firm that can help you. A conviction might have far-reaching consequences. Our firm knows how to put together a strong defence strategy in order to get the best possible outcome for your case. Every criminal harassment case is unique and demands a thorough assessment of all the details. Allow our legal team to investigate the facts of your case and weigh your options. We have offices in Toronto and Mississauga and represent clients throughout Ontario. We are frequently contacted by clients in Newmarket, Oshawa, and Hamilton who require our services.