Is it a Crime to Catcall Someone?

December 27, 2017
it is possible to be charged with a criminal offence for catcalling.
it is possible to be charged with a criminal offence for catcalling.



  • "Catcalling" typically refers to the behaviour where one person makes a sexual advance towards another person openly and  loudly in a pubic area.
  • It is defined as making a whistle, shout, or comment of a sexual nature to a woman passing by.
  • This behaviour is not explicitly prohibited by law in Canada.
  • That being said, depending on the conduct employed by the advancer to "catcall", there is a section in the Criminal Code of Canada under which they may be charged.
  • It is possible for someone to be charged with Criminal Harassment for "catcalling".
  • Criminal Harassment is found in section 264(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

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.

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.

  • If anyone were made to feel unsafe by the advancements of another  person it is conceivable that they may be charged with the criminal offence of Criminal Harassment, based on the following criteria:
  1. the target must feel harassed by the conduct;
  2. the accused must know or ought to know that the target feels harassed by their conduct;
  3. the accused's conduct must be one of the acts listed in the section including: repeatedly following the target, repeatedly communicating with the target, besetting or watching places where the target frequents, or threatening the target or someone the target knows;
  4.  lastly, the target of the conduct must have a reasonable fear for their safety or the safety or someone they know.
  • If the Crown were successful at proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Criminal Harassment was perpetrated by the accused  and the accused were convicted of Criminal Harassment, the accused could potential face a maximum sentence of up to ten years imprisonment.
  • Section 264 states:

(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.

  • Criminal Harassment is a serious criminal offence and the consequences of a conviction are serious for the accused.
  • If you have been charged with the offence of Criminal Harassment it is in your best interest to employ a skilled criminal defence lawyer to assist you in defending the allegations against you.
  • Contact Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers today for your free consultation!


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