How to Charge Someone with Harassment in Canada?

How to Charge Someone with Harassment in Canada

Harassment is a common issue that affects the victim’s mental health and daily life. In 2022, 27,324 cases of criminal harassment were reported to the Canadian Police. The number is growing every year. 

Therefore, if you are a victim of harassment, you should know what to do or how to take legal action. In this blog, we will explain criminal harassment and tell you how to charge someone with harassment in Canada.

What is Criminal Harassment?

Harassment is an unwanted act that offends, intimidates, or insults someone. The offence can happen in person or through the internet. Also, the behaviour can be written, verbal, or physical. In a word, any unwanted act that makes you feel unsafe can be defined as harassment. Here are some examples for better understanding:

  • Unwanted and repeated calls or messages
  • Unwanted physical touch
  • Repeatedly following someone
  • Threatening conduct towards someone through emails or messages
  • Hateful or unwanted comments
  • Watching over one’s dwelling house
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional assault

The accused has to be notified that his behaviour is harassing someone. Also, the victim has to be reasonably fearful of his/her safety due to the accused’s actions.  After that, if he does it again, then he will be accused of criminal harassment.

How to Charge Someone with Harassment in Canada?

There can be some differences to this process depending on the state you are in. But, the basics of the process are almost the same. Here are some major steps to take if you want to charge someone with harassment

Document the Harassment

If you feel unsafe or harassed by someone’s actions, first start to take notes of the incidents. Document the specifications of the incidents, such as time, dates, and places. It will come in handy later on in the process of pressing charges on the accused person.

Collect Evidence of Harassment

It is a good idea to collect the evidence of the incidents. If the harassment happens online or via text messages you can collect screenshots. You can collect audio recordings if it is happening through phone calls. 

In case of stalking, you can record videos and keep tabs on the locations. Finally, if you are facing harassment in person, you can make video or audio recordings and gather some witnesses.

Contact the Police

Once you are done with the documentation and have some solid evidence, you must contact the police. The police will take your report and initiate further investigations. Make sure to provide the police with as many details as possible. Your documentation and collected evidence will be useful here.

Apply for a Peace Bond

If you reasonably feel threatened by someone due to criminal harassment, you can apply for a peace bond. It is a court-issued legal order that ensures the accused is on his/her best behaviour. You need to go to the court and talk to a justice for the peace bond.

Breaking the peace bond is a criminal offence. If someone breaks the bond, they will be arrested or charged with a criminal offence. There are 3 possible penalties for this violation:

  1. Up to 2000$ fine
  2. Up to 6 months of jail
  3. Both of them

Remember that a peace bond can not protect you if the issue is too serious and the accused ignores it. In addition, it takes 3 weeks or more to get one in most cases. So, consider taking other steps and not rely on a peace bond.

Press Charges

If the police find evidence of harassment, you can press charges against the accused. You must provide evidence to the Crown prosecutor and work with the Canadian police. The Crown prosecutor will check the evidence and decide whether to proceed with the charges.

Potential Penalties for Harassment in Canada

In Canada, Criminal harassment is considered a hybrid offence. Therefore, the Crown prosecutor can prosecute it summarily or by the indictment.

Summary Outcomes for Criminal Harassment

The penalty for this process can start from nothing to 2 years, less a day of imprisonment. Also, a fine of 5,000$ fine or both.

Indictment Outcomes for Criminal Harassment

The process for this process can be a minimum of nothing and a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment.

Prosecutors will regularly request DNA from the accused to put on the Canadian DNA data bank. Besides all the legal issues, the other consequences of criminal harassment offences are very serious. A harassment conviction will make the accused unattractive and cause lots of issues in their career.

How to Defend if Charged with Criminal Harassment in Canada?

If charged with harassment, first find an expert criminal lawyer. He/she will provide you with a defence strategy. Some common defence strategies against harassment charges are made, focusing on the facts listed below.


Consent is one of the vital factors in cases of criminal harassment. The allegations change due to consent. If you can prove that the victim consented to the incident, it will be a great defence.

Mistaken Belief

In this strategy, your lawyer will try to prove that you reasonably believed your actions were not unwanted. This is a valid point of argument and a good defence strategy.

Freedom of Expression

If your lawyer can prove that your behaviour was protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it will be a great defence. The freedom of expression is also included in it. This will give you a fighting chance against the charge.


Harassment is a serious offence all over the world, and both men and women are victim of it. It has a significant impact on the personal life and mental health of the victim. Though in many cases the victim has a motive to fabricate the situation. Overall, whether you are a victim or accused, you should contact an expert lawyer immediately and take proper action. 


Can I get a peace bond?

A peace bond is a good solution, depending on the situation. The severity of the harassment and the relationship between you and the accused has to be considered here. It also depends on the Crown. Getting a peace bond takes some time and, in some situations not very helpful.

Are there any disadvantages of a peace bond?

Depending on the situation and your relationship with the accused, there could be some problems. A peace bond has some conditions where the accused can not contact you. So, if the person is someone you often contact, such as a co-worker, there will be some issues.

What are the defences for criminal harassment?

Criminal harassment requires repeated unwanted behaviour that reasonably makes the victim fearful of his/her safety. If the fear of safety is unreasonable or you were unaware that your behaviour is unwanted, it can be a defence.