Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Criminal Harassment Definition:

Unsolicited annoying, alarming or abusive conduct or words which are threatening, and which are prohibited by law.

Related Terms: Harassment, Hate Crime

Conduct or words that surpass the standard even of civil harassment under, for example, employment safety legislation and for which the state has described as being criminal in nature.

The 2008 General Laws of Massachusetts defines criminal harassment at Chapter 265, §43A as follows:

"Whoever willfully and maliciously engages in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person, which seriously alarms that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, shall be guilty of the crime of criminal harassment....

"Such conduct or acts ...shall include, but not be limited to, conduct or acts conducted by mail or by use of a telephonic or telecommunication device including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications or facsimile communications."

In Canada, the term has been adopted to prohibit what is generally known as stalking.

The Criminal Code, at §264 defines criminal harassment as follows:

"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 (the following) conduct ...that causes that other person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them:

  • Repeatedly following from place to place the other person or anyone known to them;
  • Repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them;
  • 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
  • Engaging in (such) threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family."


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