What You Need to Know About Stalking (Harassment)

Stalking is considered harassment under the Criminal Code of Canada. Most often, this type of offence is committed by someone who continuously harasses another individual repeatedly over a period of time. However, the law does define “repeatedly” as behaviours that are committed frequently or persistently, more than once, which may occur in a relatively short period of time.

For instance, you are at a club and make numerous attempts to buy another person a drink, ask them to dance, go out on a date, and get their phone number, and so on. If the other person has a genuine fear of their safety, based upon your behaviours, they could potentially file a complaint of harassment against you.

There are different forms of what is considered stalking behaviours, these include, but may not be limited to:

  • Directly attempting to communicate with another person repeatedly, over the telephone, by email, text message, through social media sites, or through the mail, or giving them gifts, even after they have asked you to stop.
  • Indirectly communicating with them through their friends or family, or another third party, such as asking someone to give them a note or gift on your behalf.
  • Following them on a frequent basis when they leave their home, go to work, go shopping, and other places outside the home.
  • Watching them from outside of their home or place of employment.
  • Behaving in a threatening manner towards the person, their friends, or family.
  • Attempting to learn more about them through their friends or family, either with or without their knowledge.

It is worth mentioning in today’s highly technological driven society, a person could be charged with stalking for harassing another online or through other such electronical devices and/or means, such as posting pictures you have taken of the other person, without their knowledge to their social media pages.

Punishment for Stalking

If convicted and found guilty of stalking, the maximum punishment imposed by the courts depends upon whether the person was convicted through a summary conviction or an indictable offence. A person could potentially face up to six months in jail for a summary conviction and up to ten years in jail for an indictable offence. Additionally, there can be other penalties, such as probation, not having any contact with the complainant (victim), their friends, or family, and remaining a set distance away from the complainant, their friends, or family.

Should I Accept a Peace Bond if the Crown Offers One?

It depends upon the circumstances of your case and if this option is presented, it is best to discuss this in more detail with your criminal defence lawyer in Ottawa. A peace bond is an agreement made between the accused and the court, which has specific terms and conditions, very similar to a bail agreement. As long as the accused person adheres to and fulfills the terms and conditions of the peace bond, they will not be convicted of the crime.

A peace bond does not imply the guilt of the accused and normally involves being able to follow all terms and conditions for up to a year, possibly longer. The terms and conditions of the peace bond could include not having contact with the complainant, their friends, and family, adhering to all laws, not committing any other criminal offences, reporting changes in addresses/employers to the court, and so on.

While a peace bond does not result in a conviction, it is worth mentioning the stalking offence might appear on criminal background searches, especially if you are still in process of fulfilling the terms and conditions.

Please note, the above information should not be used as actual legal advice. Everyone’s circumstances and situations regarding stalking offences are different.

If you or someone you know is being charged with stalking, it is in your best interests to speak directly to an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer to get your questions answered and find out what options are available for building a defence to the charges. Call the law offices of Céline Dostaler at 613.695.8595 today for a no obligation; FREE 30-minute consultation and consultation appointment.