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Is it a Crime to Prank Call Someone?

You could face criminal offence charges for prank calling someone.

You could face criminal offence charges for prank calling someone.

 

  • prank calling can be defined as a mischievous phone call made to trick someone.
  • While prank calling may seem like an innocent childhood fun, it is possible to be charged with a criminal offence for prank calling, depending on the extent of your actions.
  • If you were to be charged with a criminal offence for prank calling it is likely that you would be charged with the offence of criminal harassment.
  • Section 264 of the Criminal Code pertains to the criminal offence of criminal harassment.
  • Section 264 describes behaviour that can constitute criminal harassment.
  • Included in the criminal code definition of criminal harassment are actions that could potential be committed while prank calling someone.

The actions that would make prank calling someone a criminal offence are:

 

  1. Repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone know to them,
  2. Engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family.
  • If during a prank call someone was to do either of those things they could potentially be charged with criminal harassment.

In order for someone to be charged with criminal harassment it is essential that the above behaviour also accompany the below described elements:

  1. The complainant felt harassed by the conduct,
  2. You knew or were recklessly or wilfully blind to the fact that your conduct was harassing the complainant,
  3. Your conduct caused the complainant to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them, and
  4. The complainant’s fear was reasonable.
  • In order for an accused person to be convicted of criminal harassment the Crown Attorney must prove all of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

Criminal harassment

  • 264 (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.
  • Marginal note:Prohibited conduct

(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.
  • Marginal note:Punishment

(3) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of

    • (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
    • (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
  • Marginal note:Factors to be considered

(4) Where a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the court imposing the sentence on the person shall consider as an aggravating factor that, at the time the offence was committed, the person contravened

    • (a) the terms or conditions of an order made pursuant to section 161 or a recognizance entered into pursuant to section 810, 810.1 or 810.2; or
    • (b) the terms or conditions of any other order or recognizance made or entered into under the common law or a provision of this or any other Act of Parliament or of a province that is similar in effect to an order or recognizance referred to in paragraph (a).
  • Marginal note:Reasons

(5) Where the court is satisfied of the existence of an aggravating factor referred to in subsection (4), but decides not to give effect to it for sentencing purposes, the court shall give reasons for its decision.

  • If you have been charged with criminal harassment or any other criminal offence contact Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers to find out about the defences that may be available to you!

 

25 Jul 2017

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