Understanding Criminal Harassment
Criminal harassment involves actions such as stalking, which are intended to instill fear for your safety without any lawful reason. Typically, these actions must occur more than once to be considered harassment. However, a single incident may suffice if it’s particularly threatening. It’s irrelevant whether the harasser intended to scare you.
It’s important to note, certain individuals may have valid reasons for contacting you multiple times, like debt collectors, provided they abide by legal guidelines.
If you’re feeling unsafe because someone is persistently:
- Following you,
- Repeatedly contacting you,
- Observing your home or workplace,
- Making threats towards you or your loved ones,
It’s possible you’re a victim of criminal harassment.
Examples of criminal harassment include:
- Repeated phone calls or hang-ups,
- Continuous online contact or emails,
- Stalking you or those close to you,
- Leaving threatening messages,
- Unsolicited gifts,
- Surveillance or tracking your movements,
- Threats towards you, your family, friends, or pets.
Such behaviors can be intimidating and emotionally distressing. If you’re experiencing this, it’s crucial to contact the police to explore your options.
The Evolution of Criminal Harassment Laws
While harassment and stalking are not new, the specific offense of “criminal harassment” was defined in the Criminal Code in 1993. Previously, related actions were charged under different offenses. The introduction of this law aimed to address the rising violence against women, particularly those exiting relationships.
Who Are the Stalkers?
Stalkers vary widely in their behavior and motives. Some may suffer from mental disorders. Stalkers generally fall into two categories: those fixated on strangers, including celebrities, and those who know their victims, such as ex-partners, aiming to exert control. Most victims of criminal harassment are known to their stalker. Although stalking can affect anyone, statistics reveal that most victims are women stalked by men.
Assessing the Risk of Violence
Predicting whether a harasser will become violent is challenging. Engaging the police to evaluate the risk is advised. Although a small percentage of cases result in harm, the potential for violence escalates if the harassment is part of ongoing family violence.
Responding to Harassment
If you’re being stalked or harassed, prioritize your safety and seek help immediately, starting with contacting the police. They can guide you on improving your safety and may suggest protective measures like changing your phone number. The police will investigate and collect evidence, and may lay charges based on their findings.
Legal Responses and Safety Measures
Depending on the evidence, the harasser can be charged with criminal harassment or other offenses. Arrests and charges depend on the specific circumstances. If charged, the outcome can range from imprisonment to probation, depending on various factors including the severity of the harassment.
In addition to criminal charges, other legal measures like peace bonds, restraining orders, and protection orders are available to victims. These orders can impose specific conditions on the harasser to prevent further contact and ensure the victim’s safety.
Enhancing Personal Safety
Victims are encouraged to inform their community, including workplaces and schools, about their situation and any legal orders in place. Keeping personal information private, ensuring home security, practicing safe internet usage, and having emergency plans can also increase personal safety.
Seeking Help and Information
Maintaining communication with the police, victim services, and legal representatives is crucial for staying informed about your case and ensuring your safety. Community resources and support organizations can offer additional assistance and information.
Remember, being harassed or stalked is not your fault. Legal and support systems are in place to help you navigate through this challenging time and ensure your safety.
What is considered criminal harassment?
Criminal harassment involves behaviors like stalking, repeatedly contacting, following, watching someone’s home or office, or making threats. These actions must cause fear for your personal safety and lack a legitimate purpose.
Can a single incident be considered criminal harassment?
Yes, a single incident can qualify as criminal harassment if it’s overtly threatening, although generally, the behavior must occur repeatedly to be considered as such.
What are some examples of criminal harassment?
Examples include: repeatedly calling or hanging up, continuous online contact, following you or your loved ones, leaving threatening messages, sending unwanted gifts, surveillance, and making threats.
Is criminal harassment a recent law?
The specific offense of “criminal harassment” was added to the Criminal Code in 1993, addressing concerns about violence, especially against women leaving relationships.
Who typically engages in stalking or harassment?
Stalkers vary widely, from those obsessed with strangers or celebrities to those who know their victims, like ex-partners or acquaintances. Most stalkers are known to their victims.
What are the chances that a stalker will become violent?
It’s difficult to predict, but engaging with the police to assess the risk is advised. The likelihood of violence increases if the harassment is part of ongoing family violence.
What should I do if I am being stalked or harassed?
Prioritize your safety by contacting the police, especially if you’re in immediate danger. They can guide you on safety improvements and investigate the harassment.
Will the police charge the person harassing me?
If there’s enough evidence, the police can charge the person with criminal harassment or related offenses. Charges depend on the evidence available and the specific circumstances.
What legal options exist beyond criminal charges?
Legal measures include peace bonds, restraining orders, and protection orders, which can impose conditions on the harasser to prevent further contact and ensure the victim’s safety.
Where can I get more information or help?
Stay in touch with the police, victim services, and legal representatives. Additionally, community resources and support organizations can offer further assistance and information
Is being harassed or stalked my fault?
No, being harassed or stalked is not your fault. Legal and support systems are in place to help protect you and ensure your safety.
Pax Law can help you!
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