21st May 2018
New offences of stalking (in addition to existing offences of harassment) were introduced in 2012. The offences are harassment which involves a course of conduct that amounts to stalking. There are two offences, stalking involving fear of violence and stalking involving serious alarm or distress.
What is stalking?
There is no strict definition, but the legislation lists a number of behaviours associated with stalking –
The list is not exhaustive and nor is behaving in one of these ways automatically stalking, context is everything.
What must the prosecution prove?
Additionally, for the offence involving fear of violence it must be proven –
The test whether he “ought to know”, is whether a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think that the course of conduct would cause the other to fear violence.
It is an offence if conduct amounts to stalking and causes another to fear, on at least two occasions that violence will be used, or that the conduct causes serious alarm or distress, which has a substantial effect on a person’s day to day activities.
This could mean that they have to, for example, change a route they normally use, move home or change the way they socialise. It could also mean a change to a person’s physical or mental health.
Are there any defences?
It is a defence to show –
Additionally, for the violence offence it is a defence if the course of conduct was reasonable for the protection of the defendant or another, or for the protection of his or another’s property.
What sentence could I get?
For the basic offence of stalking the maximum sentence is six months imprisonment, for the offence causing fear of violence or serious alarm/distress the maximum sentence is 10 years imprisonment (for an offence on or after 2 April 2017; 5 years for offences prior to that date).
A restraining order to protect the victim from further contact can also be imposed, even if a defendant is found not guilty of the offence.
How can we help?
These are serious allegations and the law is complex, please contact us on 0113 247 1477 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, for further advice and representation. As experienced defence lawyers we know that there is always another side to the story, let us tell that for you.