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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Stalking Offences Stalking Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

    Stalking Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

    The law is intended to be fair and makes everyone equal, and that is why all actions from a person that tends to belittle, scare, threaten, violate, molest, demeanour or assault anyone is regarded as an offence.

    Stalking is one of the offences that a person can commit against another person in the Northern Territory (NT), especially where it is unsolicited and causes the person to fear for their lives or properties.

    Section 189 of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) prohibits all actions, conducts and forms that constitute stalking in the Northern Territory of Australia. Anyone found guilty of stalking may face harsh penalties if the court considers it appropriate for their offence.

    It is a stalking offence under the NT Criminal Code if the offender;

    1. Attempts and follows the complainant/victim around without good reason or purpose;
    2. Overwhelms the victim through any aid, means or media, including; phone calls, prank calls, messages, or even contacting the victim or other persons;
    3. Loitering, waiting or staking out on areas around the victim. It includes where the victim spends a lot of their time in these areas; Homes, office, Salon, Workplace;
    4. Dealing or handling properties under the victim's care borders on interference. It does not matter that the offender has a reason or interest in the property;
    5. Keeping offensive or inflammatory materials around the person or systemically leaving them in places where they will find them. For example, keeping pornographic content, unsolicited notes or gifts, around the victim's desk, porch, gardens, and other places related to the victim;
    6. Sending unsolicited gifts, materials, reminders to the person. It does not matter if they are offensive or not;
    7. Carries out overt or discreet surveillance of the victim or their properties. It does not matter the offender’s reason for doing any of these actions. It includes setting up illicit cameras, bugging devices, keyholes, getting remote access to their devices, re-working their connections, tapping their phones;
    8. Illegitimately keeping properties of the victim to elicit interaction or connections with them. It does not matter that you were offering help as long as the victim finds it uncomfortable;
    9. All other actions or conduct make the victim offended, scared, and reasonably fear for their lives or properties.

    If you are convicted of a stalking offence in the NT, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a national police check in the NT.

    Proving the intention to cause physical harm or fear

    An offender can argue that they did not intend to arise or upset the victim so much that they fear for their lives. If the offender can successfully prove that they did not intend to cause harm, the court may adjust their charges.

    However, the court considers the offender to be with the intent of causing harm or fear if;

    • The offender knows that a reasonable person would be aware and worried by such actions, and
    • Their conduct or actions at the point could lead to harm or danger even if it were not the intent.

    Is Stalking only physical under the law?

    The law considers and acknowledges the various forms a person can "Stalk" another person. It does not have to be physical conduct that causes apprehension for the defendant to be guilty of stalking. Stalking can be mental, psychological, or even digital.

    The court considers it stalking if it finds you guilty of any action that would reasonably cause apprehension to the victim or any other person.

    What is digital stalking (Cyberbullying) in the NT?

    Making a person reasonably fear for their lives through connections or interactions through virtual spaces is a form of stalking. If a person, because of your conduct, threats, messages, unsolicited opinions and verbal assaults, becomes apprehensive or fear for their life, you will be guilty of digital stalking.

    Other forms of digital stalking include;

    • Hacking into the victim’s personal online space,
    • Illicitly spying on their online activities,
    • Sending unsolicited and insensitive messages especially graphic or pornographic images,
    • Bugging them with unnecessary private messages or requests,
    • Threatening them through abusive messages,
    • Impersonating them online,
    • Impersonating someone else to lure them.

    What is mental or psychological stalking?

    These are various forms of manipulating, blackmailing or coercing a person out of their will. An offender is guilty of stalking a person mentally if they have employed devious plans to keep them tormented emotionally or psychologically.

    Emotional stalking is typical among close relatives and partners. Some forms of mentally stalking a person includes;

    • Blackmail,
    • Harassment in work or homes,
    • Employing other forms of manipulation and deception.

    Punishment for a Stalking Offence in the Northern Territory (NT)?

    A person who stalks another person, causing fear, is guilty of an offence under the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT). The penalty for a stalking offence in the NT is a;

    • Two years imprisonment term, or
    • Five years in the presence of other aggravating or exceptional circumstances such as breaching bail or carrying an offensive weapon at the time of stalking.

    Are there minor sentences for a stalking offence?

    Usually, Stalking offences are treated summarily before a Magistrate in the NT unless it forms part of a severer indictable offence in the NT.

    If the court considers stalking a minor offence, including any mitigating conditions, the court may issue other lesser sentencing. For example, the court may issue a Restriction or Intervention Order against the defendant.

    Furthermore, the court may end the case by issuing a warning to the defendant, which they must abide by,

    Or

    The court may commit the defendant to community programs under a community corrections officer, depending on the circumstances of their case.

    How does a Restriction Order Help the Victim?

    Restriction or personal violence orders in the NT contain certain conditions that the defendant must live by. Before issuing a restriction order, the court will consider all the matters and charges in the case.

    For example, a typical condition in the Restriction Order is that the defendant is subsequently prohibited from contacting or visiting the victim in any form unless through their parole officer. It will not matter even if the victim/complainant initiated the meeting or contact.

    Other conditions of a personal violence order can include;

    The defendant is prohibited from reaching certain distances of the complainant or their properties. It can count as a breach of the order if the defendant refuses to vacate an area where they find the victim.

    • The defendant may not travel outside the Territory for the duration of the Court order.
    • The defendant is prohibited from getting certain licenses,
    • The defendant must report to their parole officer for frequent updates,
    • The offender may have to vacate their accommodation if they live close to the complainant,
    • If the court considers them of imminent danger, they may impose a house arrest,
    • The defendant is prohibited from contacting or chatting with the victim through other mobile devices,
    • Any other condition the court considers relevant to the matter.

    What happens if the defendant breaches the Court Order?

    If the defendant breaches the Court Order through any fault or omission to the conditions, they will get a court to summon. After the court hearing, and depending on the circumstances, the Magistrate may decide to;

    • Adjust the conditions

    The court may alter some of the previous agreements to conditions that are more practical and suitable.

    • Do nothing

    The court may leave the offender by doing nothing about the breach.

    • Sentence the offender

    If the court finds enough evidence that the breach was; intentional and in contempt of the law and caused the victim to reasonably fear, they will sentence them for the original offence.

    For this case, the court may consider it an aggravating matter that the offender breached a Court Order and impose penalties of up to 5 years imprisonment for the stalking offence in the NT depending on the circumstances.

    How long does a Court (restriction) Order last?

    The Restriction order against the defendant will remain in place until a period where the court considers the Victim to be reasonably safe. However, most restriction orders expire after 2 to 5 years, depending on the severity of the matter.

    If the court considers that the Court order should remain in place due to the circumstance, they may renew the court order.

    Can I sue a person for stalking me?

    If you notice strange behaviours from a person following, watching or constantly engaging in actions that put you at risk, apply at once to the court or a Police officer.

    You can also apply immediately to the Police office or dial the emergency number to get an emergency personal violence order against the person.

    Stalking is a crime in the NT, and if you are charging a person to court, go along with evidence and witnesses to prove the offender's guilt.

    Can a person complain against a stalker on my behalf?

    If there is sufficient reason for fear or even imminent danger, a third party may complain to the Police or summon the offender to court on your behalf. The NT police force usually handle prosecution against stalkers.

    If you are a victim of stalking, you should approach the NT police force or obtain advice from an experienced criminal lawyer.

    Will a Stalking Offence in the NT show up on a national criminal history check certificate?

    If an individual is convicted in the NT for the offence of Stalking, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their criminal background check. The offence will get disclosed on a criminal history check in accordance with the Spent Convictions Scheme in the NT.

    Individuals can obtain a criminal background check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

    Sources

    Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) - https://legislation.nt.gov.au/en/Legislation/CRIMINAL-CODE-ACT-1983

    NT Law Handbook (Austlii) (Offences Against the Person) - http://ntlawhandbook.org/foswiki/NTLawHbk/OffencesAgainstThePerson

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