Criminal Code of Canada

The Criminal Code lists, defines and describes everything that is a crime in Canada. It applies in every province and territory in the country. Anyone found guilty of an offence that is listed in the Criminal Code has committed a criminal act. Other sets of laws that control the behaviour of the people in Canada include the Youth Justice Act, Narcotics Control Act and the Firearms Control Act. 

However, there are many illegal acts that do not fall within the scope of the Criminal Code. These activities are often governed by provincial laws and will vary from province to province. People can be found guilty and be sentenced to penalties that include jail time.

The kinds of acts that fall within provincial authority tend to be of a less serious nature than those that fall under the authority of the federal Criminal Code.

Common Criminal Charges in Gender-Based Violence Cases


When someone touches another person, directly or indirectly, without that person’s consent it is an assault. It is also an assault when the person attempts or threatens to touch another person. This is a criminal offence, whether or not the victim has any physical injuries.

Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm

This is assault when the person carries, uses or threatens to use a weapon or an imitation of a weapon or causes physical harm that interferes with the health or comfort of the victim.

Aggravated assault

This is assault that involves wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of the victim.

Breaking and Entering

Using force to enter with intent to cause harm. This includes breaking into not only houses, but any building or structure.

Criminal harassment

This is the legal term for stalking. It is illegal for someone to repeatedly follow someone from place to place, repeatedly communicate with that person, spend time outside that person’s house or workplace, or make threats against the person, if it causes that other person to fear for her safety.

Forcible confinement

Forcing someone to remain somewhere or interfering with (blocking) the person from leaving a place is forcible confinement.


Any murder or homicide that does not meet the definition of 1st or 2nd degree murder is said to be manslaughter. Practically speaking, manslaughter is when someone is doing something wrong and someone else ends up dead as a result of it and the offender did not intend to kill or cause significant bodily harm. 


When someone willfully destroys or damages someone else’s property, or interferes with the regular use of property. This can include destroying or altering computer data, or denying access to computer data to a person who is entitled to access it.

Murder Charges

Murder is not limited to crimes where the offender actually intends to kill the other person. Simply intending to cause significant bodily harm can meet the definition. Murder is classified as either 1st degree or 2nd degree. 1st Degree Murder is the most serious charge of murder. It includes acts that are planned and deliberate. 2nd Degree Murder is any murder that does not meet the definition of 1st degree murder is deemed to be 2nd degree murder.

Sexual assault

Any unwanted touching of sexual nature is a sexual assault. This can range from touching of sexual parts of the body to vaginal or anal penetration. As with other assaults, if weapons are involved or there is serious physical injury, the charge can become either sexual assault with a weapon or aggravated sexual assault.


While trespassing is usually defined as the unlawful entry onto the private land of another, it also includes performing an unlawful activity on the land and refusing to leave when told to do so. The Criminal Code makes it an offence to loiter or prowl at night (9 pm – 6 am) on the property of another person near a dwelling situated on that property.

Uttering threats

It is a criminal offence to utter a threat to kill or seriously harm another person, to destroy another person’s property or to injure or kill an animal or bird belonging to another person.

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