In November 2012 the Government introduced new laws to target the offence of Stalking, making it a distinct offence in its own right for the first time.
If you find yourself in a situation involving stalking contact us now to speak to one of our experienced criminal defence solicitors. We have a large team of lawyers who specialise in dealing with this type of offence.
What is Stalking?
There is no actual definition for Stalking, but a list of behaviours are set out which could represent Stalking. The list is not an exhaustive one but gives an indication of the types of behaviour that may be displayed in a stalking offence.
- (a) following a person,
- (b) contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means,
- (c) publishing any statement or other material relating or purporting to relate to a person, or purporting to originate from a person,
- (d) monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,
- (e) loitering in any place (whether public or private),
- (f) interfering with any property in the possession of a person,
- (g) watching or spying on a person.
Stalking is a summary offence and a person guilty of the offence of stalking is liable to imprisonment for a term of up to 6 months, or a fine.
Successful conviction for the offence of Stalking relies on establishing that harassment has taken place.
Stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress
This is a separate and more serious offence carrying a sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment, or a fine, or both. It is an either way offence.
The elements of the offence of Stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress are:
- a course of conduct;
- which amounts to stalking; and
- which causes another to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against him or her; or
- causes another serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on his or her usual day-to-day activities.
There are two ways of committing this offence:
First, a course of conduct that amounts to stalking and causes the victim to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against them.
Second, a course of conduct which causes "serious alarm or distress" which has a substantial adverse effect on the day-to-day activities of the victim. This recognises the overall emotional and psychol>ogical harm that stalking may cause to victims, even where an explicit fear of violence is not created by each incident of stalking behaviour.
The phrase "substantial adverse effect on ... usual day-to-day activities" is not defined and therefore this element will be decided by the Courts. Examples of the adverse effects on usual day-to-day activities may include the following:
- (a) the victim changing their routes to work, work patterns, or employment;
- (b) the victim arranging for friends or family to pick up children from school (to avoid contact with the stalker);
- (c) the victim putting in place additional security measures in their home;
- (d) the victim moving home;
- (e) physical or mental ill-health;
- (f) the deterioration in the victim's performance at work due to stress;
- (g) the victim stopping /or changing the way they socialise.
Please contact us to speak to one of our experienced lawyers for more information.