What are defences to criminal harassment?
There are a variety of defences for individuals charged with criminal harassment based on the circumstances of each specific case including the relationship between the accused and complainant. The most important step in determining what defences are available to you, is to hire an experienced lawyer who can properly assess your case. Cory Wilson has successfully represented countless individuals charged with criminal harassment.
A common defence to an allegation of criminal harassment is that the alleged behaviour was conducted with lawful authority. An example of such lawful behaviour could be repeated attempts of contact to enforce a court order or serve court documents.
Another common defence is to demonstrate to the judge that the alleged conduct did not cause the complainant to reasonably have fear. The test for reasonable fear on the part of the complainant involves an inquiry into whether a reasonable person, in the particular circumstances, would fear for his or her safety or the safety of anyone known to him or her. In considering whether the complainant’s fears are reasonably held, the judge will take into consideration the complainant’s gender, and the history and circumstances surrounding the prior relationship between the accused and the complainant.
If the complainant is alleging harassing emails, texts or phone calls, it is a defence if it can be shown that the complainant was actively engaging in the ongoing conversation. In these situations, it is important for an accused to gather the records as soon as possible so they aren’t inadvertently deleted or require a court order to recover.