On a charge of Criminal Harassment the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That the accused engaged in the activity in question; AND
- That the accused knew or was reckless about how their conduct would be perceived by the complainant; AND
- That the complainant feared for their safety or the safety of someone connected to them; AND
- That the fear the complainant experienced was reasonably held under the circumstances.
If the defence lawyer raises a reasonable doubt with respect to any of these considerations, the court must acquit the accused.
In British Columbia the Crown Counsel Policy Manual instructs the prosecution to proceed with Criminal Harassment charges even in cases of a single occurrence “if placed in the context of a prior history of abuse or violence” the incident may be considered Criminal Harassment. Previous allegations of Assault or Uttering Threats will be considered in determining whether a pattern of behaviour supports a Criminal Harassment charge.
Stalking is prosecuted under the provisions for Criminal Harassment. There is no separate offence of “Stalking” in Canadian law.
The Criminal Code prescribes up to ten years in jail on a conviction for Criminal Harassment.