Your behaviour can be stalking even if you do not think you are stalking another person.
It can be stalking if you are:
- following a person; or
- hanging around (loitering) near where they work or live; or
- you are repeatedly contacting a person; or
- intimidating or harassing them; or
- threatening or committing acts of violence against somebody.
It can be stalking even if it just happened once, or if it happened over a drawn out period or for a long time. For example, following somebody for hours.
Does the other person have to be afraid?
It does not matter that you did not intend to stalk the other person or that the other person was not really intimidated, afraid or caused serious harm. If the behaviour is the sort of behaviour that would normally cause a person to feel that way or to suffer harm, then it is stalking.
When does the behaviour not amount to stalking?
If the behaviour is part of an industrial relations dispute, a political or genuine public dispute, related to public interest issues or legitimate business reasons then it is not stalking.
What are the penalties for stalking?
The maximum penalty for stalking is five years’ imprisonment. But, in more serious cases e.g. where the stalker has used violence, has a weapon, breached a domestic violence Order or another restraining Order the maximum penalty is seven years’ imprisonment.
Even if you are not found guilty the Judge or Magistrate Hearing the matter can still consider making a restraining Order based on their own discretion or upon application by the prosecutor or interested person.
What can a person who is being stalked do?
If you are being stalked you can make a complaint to the police and if there is sufficient evidence, charges can be laid against the stalker. If the person accused of stalking does not admit to the offence you may be required to give evidence in Court.
If the suspected stalker is:
- a current or former spouse or defacto partner.
- a relative by blood or marriage.
- someone in an intimate personal relationship; or
- an informal care relationship.
you can get legal advice about a domestic violence Order.
In other cases, if the stalking behaviour includes violence, threats of violence, damage to property or threats of damage to property, get legal advice about a peace and good behaviour Order.
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