Stalking / Intimidation with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm
The offence of stalking or intimidation with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm generally occurs in the context of domestic relationships. It is designed to ensure that a person is protected from abusive, controlling and sometimes manipulative behaviours of others.
Commonly, these offences occur at the end of a relationship when one party may be angry and emotionally distressed, however, this is not always the case. If you are charged with this offence, it is important to determine all the facts so that strategies for your defence can be identified. An experienced Criminal defence lawyer will be able to guide you through the process and outline the options available to you.
What is the offence?
“A person who stalks or intimidates another person with the intention of causing the other person to fear physical or mental harm is guilty of an offence.”
What are the applicable penalties?
In the Local Court, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and a fine of $5,500, in the District Court the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $5,500.
What must the prosecution prove?
The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had:
- Intention to cause fear of physical or mental harm and;
- That their behaviour(s) committed or attempted to constitute stalking or intimidation.
It is important to note that it need not be proven that the victim actually felt fear of physical or mental harm. You can still be convicted in the absence of such a finding, provided it is proven that you intended to cause fear of physical or mental harm.
What if I plead guilty?
If you plead guilty you will be sentenced accordingly. The Magistrate or Judge will look at the unique circumstances of your case and your personal profile (e.g. history of offending, employment) in arriving at an appropriate sentence. Early guilty pleas entered will attract a discount on sentencing.
What sentencing options are available?
- Custodial sentence (jail): While the Courts view this as a last resort it is available
- Intensive Corrections Order (ICO): The Court has determined that a jail term is appropriate, however, has elected that you serve your sentence in the community. An assessment report from Corrective Services to determine your suitability is required before you are sentenced to an ICO. You may be required to comply with conditions such as mandatory counselling, treatment and abstinence from alcohol (where applicable);
- Community Corrections Order (CCO): A sentence to be served within the community and may be imposed as an alternative to imprisonment. The standard conditions not to commit further offences and to report to the Court when called to do so are applicable. In addition, the Court can impose other conditions such as non-association or supervision conditions.
- Conditional Release Order (CRO) (with or without conviction): Similar to previous good behaviour bonds, the Court requires you to not commit further offences for a period set by the Court, as well as to report to the Court at any time during the CRO. A CRO may be given with or without a conviction, meaning with or without a conviction to appear on your criminal record.
- Fine: The Court can fine you a sum of money, having regard to your personal financial circumstances.
What if I plead not guilty?
If you plead not guilty, your defence representative may make legal arguments to the effect that your conduct did not amount to a stalking/intimidation offence. A disputed facts hearing may also take place in contention of the facts put forward by the Police officers that charged you.
What defences are available?
The following defences may be available to you:
- No intent (that you did not intend to cause fear of physical or mental harm);
- Necessity (that you committed the offence out of necessity);
- Self-defence (that you committed the offence in self-defence)
- Duress (that you were forced to commit the offence).
What does “intimidation” mean?
Intimidation is defined under Section 7 Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act. Intimidation involves:
- Acting in a way that amounts to harassment or molestation; or
- Approaching someone in a way that causes fear of safety (this involves approaching someone by texting, calling, emailing or other technologically means); or
- Doing something that causes ‘reasonable apprehension’ of injury, violence or damage to someone or that person’s property.
Intimidation can occur through either words or actions. Intimidation often involves threats that result in fear for safety or violence or, even an attempt to pressure another person to do a certain act that causes fear of violence or harassment.
Examples of “intimidation”
- Making conditional threats to someone (e.g. “if you don’t do X, I will do Y”)
- Loitering around someone’s house such that it causes a reasonable apprehension of violence or damage to their person or property;
- Being overbearing by SMS that causes the other person to fear for their safety;
- Following the other person.
What does “stalking” mean?
Stalking is defined under section 8 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007. Stalking involves:
- Following a person; or watching a person, or approaching a person;
- at their place of residence, business or work, or at a place that a person frequents for the purposes of any social or leisure activity.
The essence of stalking is repeated activity by a person which is persistent and controlling against another person. The victim may feel overpowered and overwhelmed by the stalker’s actions and feel a loss of control.
Examples of “stalking”
- Constant phone calls and/or text messages;
- Leaving notes daily on the other person’s doorstep;
- Sending unwanted gifts;
- Following them from a car
- Spying on someone.
We can help
As with any legal matter, the devil is in the details. With your defence representative, we closely scrutinise all the relevant facts of your case and formulate the best way forward. Your prospects of a fair and just outcome are increased with strong legal representation.
Fourtree Lawyers have extensive experience assisting clients on the Central Coast with matters related to Stalk/Intimidation. Our lawyers can explain and guide you through the entire Court process and work with you to minimise the legal ramifications of your offence. Instructing a lawyer to act on your behalf will ensure you fully understand your position and your options and will assist you in getting the best possible results for your particular case.
Contact our Central Coast Lawyers on 1300 529 444 as soon as possible. The earlier we can start building a strong case for you, the higher your chance of getting a good outcome.
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“Kevin and Jane were my “knights in shining armour.” I can’t thank these two people enough. They gave their everything and most important believed me when I told them my story. I am forever grateful for their professional attitude and for giving 100% to free me from my nightmare. I was able to plead guilty but also most importantly was not forced to lie and compromise my integrity and own personal values and standards. I was very happy with the outcome and the way I was treated. They communicated constantly...
Had the most amazing experience with Fourtree Lawyers kevin vierboom who represented my partner was helpful and understanding and we got a great result better then expected ? jane hogan, I was so blessed to have her by my side. They are an amazing team and i would recommend them to everyone also great value for money. Especially considering i only called the morning of the court case and they were all over it at my bek and call thankyou so much guys im so appreciative for all your help today
I was lucky enough to have Kevin take my case and am truly grateful for the services he and his team provided. From the outset, I was made to feel comfortable and knew from the first time meeting with them that they would go above and beyond to get the best possible outcome and that is exactly what they did. Fourtree Lawyers provides exceptional service with outstanding results and I would recommend Kevin to anyone and everyone who is in need of these services.
Section 32 - Common Assault, Stalk Intimidate - Gosford Local Court
Our client was a 42 year old male, the father of a young child who was embroiled in a family law dispute. He had been retired from the Police Force with PSTD after a distinguished career of service to the community. He was charged with common assault and stalk intimidate after a misunderstanding during an arranged parenting handover.
He strenuously denied the allegations and after all of the aspects of the case were considered solicitor Kevin Vierboom made a Section 32 Application under the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990. After hearing extensive oral and written submissions and consideration of a detailed psychiatric report, the Magistrate allowed the section 32 application and dismissed the charges on the condition that our client enters into treatment under the care of his psychologist.
No conviction CRO | Stalk/Intimidate; Destroy or Damage Property | Gosford Local Court
Our client is a 30-year-old male who lives on the Central Coast. He is employed as a sports instructor for children with disabilities. Our client’s partner ended their relationship abruptly. While attempting to collect his personal property in a carpark an altercation took place and our client was charged with destroying/damaging property and stalking/intimidation with intent to cause fear of physical/mental harm. These offences carry a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
Solicitor Kevin Vierboom made submissions to the Magistrate that this was his first appearance before any court, our client's previous good character and his contribution to the community. The Magistrate found our client guilty without recording a conviction and ordered that he enter a Conditional Release Order for 24 months.
Our client was very relieved to retain an unblemished criminal record so that he could continue working with children.
No Conviction CRO | Stalk/Intimidate | Gosford Local Court
Our client is a 39 year old female who lives on the Central Coast. She is employed in hospitality and is studying aged care. She has 3 children and is actively involved in their school and sporting activities.
Our client had an argument with another driver in a shopping centre car park. The Police charged our client with stalk/intimidate intend fear physical etc harm (personal) T2. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and/or $5,500. Solicitor Denise McCarthy made submissions to the Magistrate that our client was considered a responsible member of the community who attends diligently to her family and work commitments. Ms McCarthy also submitted that a criminal conviction would derail our client's future career plans.
The Magistrate found our client guilty and ordered a 12-month Conditional Release Order without proceeding to conviction. Our client was immensely grateful at the outcome.
Charge Dismissed & AVO Withdrawn | Stalk/Intimidate | Gosford Local Court
Our client is a 26-year-old male who lives on the Central Coast. He is employed as a metal fabricator. He had been in a domestic relationship with a partner which had recently broken down.
After an evening out together in an attempt to reconcile the relationship, a disagreement took place and the parties went their separate ways. It was alleged that later in the evening our client caused the other party to be fearful and he was charged with stalk/intimidate intend fear etc harm (domestic). This offence carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and a $5,500 fine.
Our client instructed us that he was “not guilty” of this offence and the matter was set down for hearing. Solicitor Kevin Vierboom made submissions to the Magistrate that the Police had no evidence to support the allegations. The Police Prosecutor conceded that they had no evidence and the charge was dismissed and the AVO was withdrawn.
Our client was very happy to retain his clean criminal record and not have to deal with the consequences of an AVO.
Section 10(1)(b) & Section 19B(1)(d) – Stalk/intimidate & Use Carriage Service to menace/harass/offend – Gosford Local Court
Our client, a 47-year-old male who lives on the Central Coast with his wife, was charged with Stalk/intimidate & Use Carriage Service to menace/harass/offend. The maximum penalties for these offences are 5 years and 3 years imprisonment respectively. Our client was an ex-serviceman and was suffering from severe PTSD. He was being treated for anxiety, depression and was being investigated for dissociative disorder. Our client had no recollection of the events which lead to the charges being laid.
Solicitor Kevin Vierboom made extensive submissions to the Magistrate noting our client’s contribution to our country, his unblemished record, his previous good character and tendered medical reports in support of his extensive mental health issues. The Magistrate felt that our client should be given a chance and dismissed the charges pursuant to Section 10(1)(b) and Section 19B(1)(d) on the condition that he be of good behaviour for 18 months.
Our client and his wife were both in tears when they heard the result.
Community Service | Possess unauthorised firearm, Stalk/Intimidate, Use unregistered vehicle | Gosford Local Court
Our client was a 20-year-old student who lives in the Hunter region. He was charged with a number of very serious offences two of which had maximum penalties of 2-5 years imprisonment. This was his first time before the courts.
Our client suffers major depression, anxiety and panic attack disorder. Fourtree Lawyers made extensive submissions as to our client's previous good character and his career aspirations.
The Magistrate considered the offences to be very serious and felt that a gaol term was appropriate. Our Solicitor pleaded for the court's consideration of a pre-sentence report which was finally granted. The pre-sentence report determined that our client would be suitable for Community Service. Our client was very relieved to avoid a full-time custodial sentence.