If you have been charged with stalking, here is some information to know and consider in seeking legal advice with Emma Turnbull Lawyers.
Elements of the offence
For the prosecution to prove the offence of stalking, they must prove two elements. The elements can be found in s 21(A) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) and are as follows:
- The accused intentionally engaged in a ‘course of conduct’ that included conduct of the type described in ss 21A(2)(a)-(g) of the Crimes Act; and
- The accused either:
- Committed that course of conduct with the intention of causing physical or mental harm to the alleged victim, including self-harm or of arousing apprehension or fear in the victim for their own safety or the safety of another person; or
- Knew that engaging in a course of conduct of that kind would be likely to cause such harm, or arouse apprehension or fear; or
- Ought to have understood that engaging in a course of conduct of that kind would be likely to cause such harm, or arouse such apprehension or fear, and it actually did have that result.
Course of conduct
Some types of conduct that could constitute stalking include:
- Following the person
- Publishing anything on the Internet relating to that person
- Loitering near that person’s house, work or any other place frequented by them
- Keeping the person under surveillance
For a full list of conduct that can constitute stalking, see s 21A of the Crimes Act.
Will I have to go to court?
Charges for stalking will often be heard in the Magistrates’ Court, however, depending on the circumstances of the offence, it may be heard in the County Court. Expert legal advice is important in ensuring the most appropriate defence to a charge of stalking.
Once the case goes to court, it is up to the prosecution to prove all the elements of the offence. It is important that you seek expert legal advice in building a defence as the circumstances of the events that led to the charge can assist in a strong defence argument.
The maximum penalty this offence carries is 10 years imprisonment, known as a Level 5 imprisonment.
What sentences are usually given?
Between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2016, 21 people were sentenced with stalking as a listed offence. From that number, 52% were given imprisonment sentences, with a maximum term of 6 years. The median length of an imprisonment sentence was 2 years.
Non-imprisonment sentences included Community Corrections Orders (14.9%) and fines (3.4 %).
What do I do now?
To ensure the best chance of a successful defence, it is important to get in contact with an expert criminal lawyer as soon as possible. At Emma Turnbull Lawyers, we have experienced criminal defence lawyers who can assist you in defending this charge.