This article was written by Trudie Cameron - Practice Director – Sydney

Trudie is an Accredited Specialist in Criminal Law and practices exclusively in criminal and traffic law. Trudie defends clients charged with both state and commonwealth offences and appears on their behalf in Local and District Courts. Trudie has also instructed Counsel in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal and the High Court....

Intimidation or stalking


In NSW, the offence of intimidation or stalking carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a fine of 50 penalty units. Most people who are found guilty of this offence are not sentenced to full-time custody, unless the conduct is particularly serious or it occurred in the context of other serious offending or there is a significant criminal history. That being said, most people guilty of this offence have a conviction recorded and receive a punishment.

Legislation

The offence of intimidation or stalking is contained in section 13 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 and includes:

  • conduct (including cyberbullying) amounting to harassment or molestation;
  • an approach made by any means (including by telephone, telephone text messaging, e-mailing and other technologically assisted means) that causes the person to fear for their safety;
  • conduct that causes a reasonable person to apprehend injury to them or another person with whom they have a domestic relationship; or
  • conduct that causes a reasonable person to apprehend violence or damage to any person or property;
  • following a person;
  • approaching, watching or frequenting of the vicinity of a person’s place of residence, business or work or any place that a person frequents for the purposes of any social or leisure activity,
  • contacting or otherwise approaching a person using the internet or any other technologically assisted means.

What Actions Might Constitute Intimation Or Stalking?

  • Constantly calling, emailing, or messaging someone when they’ve asked you to not to;
  • Making a threat of violence to a person or to their family; and
  • Repeatedly attending a person’s home or work without their consent or permission.

What The Police Must Prove

To find a person guilty of intimidation or stalking, the court must be satisfied that they did one or more of the below:

  • intimidated someone (as defined above); and
  • did so intending that the person fear physical or mental harm; or
  • stalked someone (as defined above); and
  • did so intending that person fear physical or mental harm.

Defences to Intimidation and Stalking

  • that you did not do the acts alleged;
  • that the acts do not amount to stalking or intimidation;
  • that you did not intend to cause the other person to fear physical or mental harm;

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

This offence is generally finalised in the Local Court, but can be heard in the District Court or Supreme Court if either party does not consent to the matter being heard summarily.

Consequences Of A Conviction

The consequences of a conviction for stalking or intimidation can be serious depending upon what you do for a living. Some jobs require you to have no criminal convictions and a conviction for an intimidation or stalking charge might jeopardise your employment or make it difficult to obtain visas for overseas travel.

Charges may also result in sentences that include imprisonment even where an individual has no previous convictions.

Penalties

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for an intimidation or stalking charge.

It is important to get legal advice at an early stage to ascertain precisely what the consequences of a conviction may be and whether you have a defence. Armstrong Legal can be contacted on 1300 038 223 or you can email us.

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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