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Stalking Offences and Penalties in Tasmania (TAS)

The information on this webpage is to be read in conjunction with this disclaimer:
Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.

In Tasmania, stalking someone is an offence. The penalty increases if one commits the crime with the intent to cause apprehension or fear of harm, stalking someone with the intent to cause harm, or stalking someone with the intent to harass them.

Stalking is an action that the perpetrator could reasonably expect to awaken the other individual's fear or suspicion of physical or mental harm. The offender must have intended to provoke apprehension, fear, or psychological or bodily injury or understand that their actions would cause wariness and fear. The punishment for stalking in Tasmania is up to 21 years imprisonment. When determining the punishment, the court will consider the circumstances of the offence and any aggravating factors.

If you are convicted of a Stalking offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

Tasmania’s Criminal Code

The Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas) went into effect on April 4, 1924. This Act defines the actions that are prosecutable and punishable by law in Tasmania. The Act empowers the state to arrest, prosecute and punish those who commit the offence of stalking.

Stalking in Tasmania

For the prosecution to establish that the accused committed a crime, they must prove the offence beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution must show that the alleged perpetrator had both the intention to cause fear of mental or physical fear and that the behaviour committed or attempted constituted stalking (or intimidation).

Stalking behaviours

Stalking behaviours include persistent actions designed to maintain contact with or exert influence and control over another person. These actions lead to discomfort, loss of control, fear, harassment, or intimidation of another person.

Stalking can include threats or sexual innuendo, "dirty jokes", and the stalker's goal is to intimidate or cause fear to the person being stalked. The stalked person may not realise they are being lurked until they notice a pattern of unusual or suspicious events.

Behaviours that can constitute stalking in Tasmania, according to section 192 of the Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas), include:

  • Following the victim or a third individual;
  • Surveillance of the other victim or a third party;
  • Loitering outside the victim's or a third person's home or workplace;
  • Loitering outside a location frequented by the victim or a third person;
  • Entering or interfering with the victim's or a third person's property;
  • Sending malicious content to the victim or a third person or leaving offensive material in a location where it is likely to be discovered, given to, or made known to the victim or a third person;
  • Publication or transmission of offensive material via electronic or other means such that the content is likely to be discovered or brought to the attention of the other person or a third person;
  • Using the internet or any other form of electronic communication in a way that one could reasonably expect to make the other person nervous or afraid;
  • Contacting the other person or a third party via postal, telephone, electronic, or other means of communication.

A person acts in a way that could reasonably be expected to make the other person nervous or fearful. For example, suppose a person sends many harassing emails to another person every day for a week.

The stalked person frequently develops a sense of loss of control over their lives and is forced to change their routine and behaviours.

A court in Tasmania will consider a person's history of violence to determine whether their behaviour qualifies as stalking. Such patterns will be those that are most common in cases of domestic abuse.

Intentionally instilling fear of mental or physical harm

The prosecution is not required to demonstrate that the victim feared physical or mental harm. The law also broadens the offence to include the victim's fear of another person harming anyone with whom she has a domestic relationship.

Victims of Stalking

Stalking can happen to anyone, and stalkers are not necessarily people who have a social or blood relationship with the victim.

If you or a loved one is a victim of stalking, you must understand that you are not responsible for the stalker's actions, and you bear no blame in any way. You should report such matters to the police so that further investigation can take place.

If, for example, you've recently left an abusive marriage, you may be at risk of being stalked, and you should be ready to take appropriate legal measures against them if this occurs. If someone is stalking you, you may note things such as:

  • Following or spying on you regularly;
  • Calling your home and workplace regularly;
  • Sending you unwanted, disturbing, or offensive or emails, letters, text messages, and so on;
  • Unwanted gifts or items left for you;
  • Your property has been vandalised or damaged;
  • Posing a threat to you or someone close to you;
  • Repeatedly showing up at places you frequent for no legitimate reason, for example, going to the gym, going out to dinner with friends, shopping, going to the movies, and so on.

What the police must demonstrate

For a court to find a person guilty of stalking beyond a reasonable doubt, the following conditions must exist:

That you had stalked someone; and that you meant to:

  • Cause fear of harm in the stalked person; or
  • Make someone else be afraid of injury; or
  • Cause the stalked person to fear for their safety; or
  • Cause someone else to be scared; or
  • Cause harm to the stalked person; or
  • Cause harm to another; or
  • Harass the stalked person.

That you were aware that stalking the other person would most likely result in:

  • Causing fear of harm in the victim; or
  • Cause someone else to be afraid of harm; or
  • Cause the stalked person to fear for their safety; or
  • Cause someone else to be afraid; or
  • Harass the stalked person.

It is unnecessary to demonstrate that the stalked person suffered from apprehension or fear of violence. All that the prosecutor will need to prove is that a reasonable interpretation of a stalker's actions would have caused concern or fear of violence or detriment.

Defences to a Stalking Offence in Tasmania

A legal argument could be that there is insufficient evidence to prove all of the stalking offences. One could argue that the accused lacked the required intent and did not intend to cause any fear of harm.

Another possible defence is that the accused had a valid reason for the behaviour, such as working in the same building.

According to section 192 of the Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas), general criminal law defences may also apply and may include:

  • Necessity – where a person compels another to commit the offence due to a threat of harm;
  • Duress – where a person stalks another due to pressure or undue persuasion by another person;
  • To implement the law;
  • The execution of a law imposing a monetary penalty;
  • The carrying out of a warrant;
  • The safeguarding of public funds.

Options for Victims of Stalking

Inform everyone you trust that you are being stalked and ask them not to share any information about you with anyone else. It can go a long way to prevent the stalker from learning more about you or your routines from them. Let other loved ones know what is going on in your life, as involving others in what is going on in your life is an effective way to combat stalking.

If you have been a victim of family violence and were married, or you are or were in a "significant relationship," Restraint and Protection Orders in Tasmania provide legal protection. A Restraint Order is a court order instructing the stalker to stay away from you and not contact you in any way. Thus, if you suspect someone is stalking you, filing for a restraint order may be prudent. If the stalker violates these restrictions, they could face severe criminal charges.

According to the Relationships Act 2003 (Tas), a significant relationship is one in which two persons live together as a couple. Same-sex marriages and de facto unions are included. Family violence in Tasmania includes assault offences in Tasmania, sexual abuse, threats, verbal harassment, intimidation, coercion, kidnapping, stalking, financial, emotional abuse, and neglect.

If you are the target of unwanted contact, monitoring, and attention, you may be the victim of stalking. Stalking is a wrongdoing in Tasmania and you can seek help if you suspect any actions that would lead you to believe that someone is stalking you.

Even if you are unsure whether the behavior you are encountering is stalking, share it with a trusted loved one and contact the police as soon as possible.

Will a Stalking Offence show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

If an individual is convicted for the offence of Stalking, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their criminal background check.

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

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