Canadian law on stalking

I previously explained why group stalking does not come within the definition of the crime of stalking under California law. This and other state stalking laws that I have seen require a repeated course of conduct by a person. Single acts of harassment by a group of people do not meet this definition.

However, I just looked at the Canadian law. It is different enough to at least give you an argument that a single act of harassment in Canada comes within the definition of stalking:

s264. (1) No person shall, without lawful authority and knowing that another person is harassed or recklessly as to whether the other person is harassed, engage in conduct referred to in subsection (2) that causes that other person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.

(2) The conduct mentioned in subsection (1) consists of
(a) repeatedly following from place to place the other person or anyone known to them;
b) repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them;
(c) besetting or watching the dwelling-house, or place where the other person, or anyone known to them, resides, works, carries on business or happens to be; or
(d) engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family.

To establish guilt of a crime, a prosecutor must establish the existence of each ELEMENT of the crime. There are two elements to the crime of stalking. The first element in Canada is that the defendant has engaged in any one of the four forms of harmful conduct listed in subsection (2) above.

California and other states require a REPEATED COURSE of harmful conduct by a person to satisfy the first element, but in the Canadian statute, notice that the word "repeatedly" is used in subsections (a) and (b) but not in (c) and (d).

A single act of watching the target's home or office or a single act of threatening conduct can thus satisfy the first element of the crime of stalking under Canadian law. You don't need to allege repeated acts by the same person. I don't know of any state law like this.

The second element of the crime of stalking under both Canadian and U.S. state law is that the prohibited conduct must cause the person reasonably to fear for his or her safety. This normally means a fear for physical safety.

The law does not say that the fear must be of harm from one person. You can reasonably fear harm from a group of persons because of an act by one person who is a member of the group. For instance, if you see a Mafia man watching your home, you would reasonably fear physical harm from the Mafia organization, not just from the watcher. For this purpose, you can bring in the stalking gang. The stalking of one person puts you in reasonable fear of harm by the stalking gang.

You probably don't see anyone watching your home. Do you see anything that police would consider a threatening act? Police will interpret "threatening act" to mean a threat of physical harm, but the law does not contain this limitation. You can argue that any harassing act is a threatening act. It is a threat of continuing harm to your emotional health by continuing harassment of a group of stalkers of which the threatening stalker is a member.

This is stretching the Canadian law to try to apply it to our situation. I your police really want to help, Canadian law gives them something to work with. If they don't want to help, they won't accept the argument. They will interpret "threatening act" to mean a threat of physical harm.

It's worth a try in Canada, but I don't know of any U.S. state law under which this argument could be made.

I'm all in favor of making police reports and of recommending to police your method of identifying stalkers. I would like to see all targets making repeated police reports so that police can't keep pretending ignorance of what is happening.

However we can't get police to take reports unless we report facts that constitute crimes as defined by law. There is a way to report the crimes of group stalkers instead of reporting separate harassment acts of separate stalkers, which are not recognized as crimes. I'll get to that subject next.

I'm trying to curb my habit of writing so much at a time that nobody reads it. The subject of establishing our right to police protection deserves a lot of thought and analysis. So I'm doing a part at a time and hoping to arouse some interest and discussion as I go along.


From Susan

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February 2005

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