The NSW legislature has made it a crime to stalk and intimidate another person through the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007. Under Section 562AB of the said law, a person who stalks or intimidates another person, with the intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm to that other person, is liable to imprisonment of 5 years or a penalty of 50 units or both.
To be charged with intimidation, an accused must be found to have committed any of the following:
(a) conduct that amounts to harassment or molestation;
(b) approach (by telephone, text messaging, e-mailing or other technological means of communication) that causes a person to fear for his safety; or
(c) conduct that causes a reasonable apprehension of injury to a person or to a person with whom the accused has a domestic relationship, or conduct that causes a reasonable apprehension of violence or damage to any person or property.
On the other hand, under the Act stalking consists of following or watching or frequenting the vicinity, or an approach to the place of residence, business or work or any place that is frequented for the purpose of social or leisure activity of the person being followed or watched.
In order to successfully prosecute an accused for intimidation or stalking it must be shown that the conduct he committed are any or all of those under Section 7 or 8. An important element of the offense of intimidation or stalking is the intention of the accused to cause fear of physical or mental harm to the complainant.
The prosecution must prove that the accused knew that his conduct will most likely cause fear in the complainant. It is irrelevant to the crime of intimidation or stalking whether the complainant actually felt fear. It need no longer be proven that the accused was successful in causing fear through his conduct but only that he had the knowledge that his actions will cause fear.
Lack of intent is the usual defence of an accused charged with intimidation or stalking. The accused can raise the defence that he did not intend to cause fear in the complainant through his actions.
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Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.