There are four types of actions that can meet the criteria for Criminal Harassment.
- Repeatedly following a person
- Repeatedly communicating with a person
- Besetting or watching any place where you know a specific person to be, or
- Engaging in threatening conduct towards a person
It is also an essential element of the offence that the Accused’s actions actually caused the complainant to feel threatened or harassed, and that the Accused either knew, or was reckless as to whether the complainant felt that way.
What You Need to Know
- The Courts tend to take these charges very seriously due to the repetitive nature of the offence.
- The maximum sentence for a conviction of criminal harassment is ten years imprisonment.
- There is often a term of probation attached to the sentence.
The Court will also usually impose relatively restrictive bail conditions on a person accused of Criminal Harassment. It is possible that the Crown will even seek to have the Accused kept in custody while awaiting trial. Given the repetitive/obsessive nature of the charge, the concern is for the complainant’s safety. The types of conditions that the court may require are; a no contact order with the complainant, regular reporting to a probation officer, a weapons ban, or a curfew.
The potential defences available to a person accused of Criminal Harassment will vary depending on the circumstances of the offence. However, the onus is always on the Crown to prove not only the alleged actions, but that the Accused either intended that, or was reckless as to whether the complainant felt harassed or threatened.