BC Criminal Defence Attorney: About Criminal Harassment and Stalking
In Canada, criminal harassment is listed as a crime under the Criminal Code. This is usually known as stalking. In particular, as a criminal attorney would be able to point out, section 264 of the Criminal Code says that nobody should persistently follow another person, repeatedly try to communicate with them, watch where they live, work or visit, or engage in threatening conduct directed at the person or a member of their family. If this happens, or if someone thinks you are doing any of these activities, it could be considered criminal harassment.
Examples of Stalking that a BC Criminal Attorney Often Sees
The kind of harassment known as stalking usually involves a series of actions occurring repeatedly over time. Examples of criminal harassment can include repeated phone calls and hanging up, constant attempts at contact through the internet, leaving threatening voice messages, and sending of gifts, among others. Someone can also be charged with criminal harassment even if it was just a single incident if the behaviour was overtly threatening.
Not only can a person who does these activities be charged with criminal harassment, but the police might also charge them with Criminal Code offences such as trespassing, assault, uttering threats, or intimidation, depending on the circumstances.
The circumstances that make up stalking can be complex. Sometimes the facts can be unclear as to who is engaging in what kind of behaviour. In addition, as the situation can take place over a period of time, the events that make up a charge for criminal harassment can be uncertain and disputed by several parties.
Getting Charged or Arrested: When You Need a BC Criminal Attorney
Depending on the individual facts of a situation, the police may or may not arrest someone accused by another person of stalking. If they decide not to arrest, the police may require the person accused of stalking to sign a “promise to appear” in court to answer the charge.
Once an individual goes before a judge or a justice of the peace, they may be (1) released on an undertaking – a promise to stay away from the person who said they have been harassed, or (2) released on bail, or (3) kept in jail until a trial. Being kept in jail usually only happens if the crime was serious and the court has reason to believe that the person may not show up at trial, or may re-offend.
Once charges are laid, police turn their file over to the Crown prosecutor’s office. It is important to retain a criminal attorney at or before this stage.
Criminal harassment is a hybrid offence and may be punishable upon summary conviction or as an indictable offence. As a indictable offence, a prison term of up to ten years could happen.
Make sure that if you are accused of stalking or criminal harassment, you contact a criminal attorney right away. A criminal attorney will be able to explain the process to you, examine the facts in your case and guide you to do the best thing in you case for you. Legal representation is important. It is your right.