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FROM HARASSMENT TO DETRIMENT: THE REALITY OF UNLAWFUL STALKING IN QUEENSLAND


Stalking offences in Queensland entail a range of intentional behaviours causing fear, harassment or detriment to victims.


What constitutes unlawful stalking, and what are the penalties if found guilty?


Defining Unlawful Stalking in Queensland


Unlawful Stalking is a serious offence in Queensland.


By definition, unlawful stalking involves intentional conduct directed at an individual on one or multiple occasions.

Stalking can include various behaviours, such as:

  • Following;

  • Loitering; and/or

  • Frequent communication/contact.

Further acts such as leaving offensive material, intimidation, harassment, threats, or even violence against the victim and/or their property can also fall into the category unlawful stalking.


Examples of Unlawful Stalking Behaviour


The spectrum of conduct that constitutes unlawful stalking can be considered quite broad, making it essential to consider legal precedents. In other words, what behaviour can constitute unlawful stalking?


Examples of unlawful stalking behaviour can be gathered through past instances where such charges have been laid.


Some of these instances include:

  • Delivering multiple unwanted communications like calls, texts, or emails;

  • Sending unwanted gifts repeatedly;

  • Loitering near persons’ residences or workplaces;

  • Making threats.

Further, the victims of these behaviours do not have to be ‘strangers’ to the stalker. Some of the example instances given above involved an ex-spouse, ex-employee or neighbour.


Burden of Proof


For a charge of unlawful stalking to stand the prosecution must prove that the victim reasonably apprehended violence, fear or detriment due to the accused behaviour.


Here, "detriment" encompasses fear, serious psychological harm, and hindrance from normal activities.


Defences and Non-Offensive Acts


While the definition is extensive, there are instances where behaviour does not amount to unlawful stalking.

Such situations will include reasonable conduct for legitimate trade or information gathering, acts during genuine disputes, political activities, or lawful execution of duties.


Penalties and Aggravating Factors


An unlawful stalking conviction can lead to a maximum of five years in prison. However, aggravating factors can elevate this penalty to seven years.


Aggravating circumstances involve violence, weapon possession, or violation of court orders, such as domestic violence orders.


Importance of Restraining Orders


Courts can impose restraining orders regardless of conviction. These orders restrict contact between parties to ensure the safety of the victim. A restraining order can be issued by the court's initiative or at the prosecution's request, irrespective of the case's outcome.


Seeking Legal Assistance


If charged with unlawful stalking, consulting an experienced criminal lawyer is crucial.

Their expertise in navigating the legal complexities, gathering evidence, and formulating a solid defence can significantly impact the outcome of the case.


Contact Creevey Horrell Criminal Lawyers


Based in Brisbane, Roma, Toowoomba, and Townsville.

Visit www.chcriminallawyers.com.au/contact-us to contact us today.


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