Area of Law: Private Investigation
Answer Number: 988
What constitutes stalking?Region: Ontario Answer Number: 988
“Stalking” is the term adopted by the public and the media to refer to what the Criminal Code classifies as “criminal harassment.” It has been the subject of considerable public discussion in recent years and the government has strengthened the law to stop it.
Under the Code, no person shall engage in conduct that causes another person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for his or her safety or the safety of anyone known to that person. This includes:
- Repeatedly following from place to place the other person or anyone known to that person
- Repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to that person
- Surrounding and harassing or watching the dwelling-house, or place where the other person, or anyone known to that person, resides, works, carries on business, or happens to be
- Engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of that person’s family
This section does not apply to someone who is operating with lawful authority or someone who does not know that he or she is harassing another. Although this second defence would appear to be an excuse easily made by a stalker, the Code limits the defence by providing that any reckless behaviour is also culpable. The punishment can be imprisonment for up-to 10 years. The court will also be particularly severe if there is a previous court order prohibiting contact.
Application to Private Investigators
In reference to private investigators, the courts have also held that the conduct of a private investigator does not make lawful that which is unlawful for a private citizen. Therefore, to avoid liability, private investigators are well advised to ensure they have a contract with a client to demonstrate a legitimate interest and lawful authority. Furthermore, private investigators are well advised to discontinue any surveillance if the subject of the surveillance becomes aware that he or she is being followed.
To have someone conduct a background check or investigation using surveillance and for other investigation services, contact our preferred Investigators, Smith Investigation Agency .
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