What To Do If You’ve Been Accused of Stalking and Harassment?
Being accused of stalking and harassment can mark the beginning of a disturbing and worrying time for any individual, but you should never feel that the outcome is out of your hands. If you have been accused of stalking and harassment, the first step you must take is to make contact with experienced legal representatives who can help to defend you against any allegations that are made.
DPP Law’s team of expert sexual offences solicitors have over thirty years of successfully building cases for the defence of individuals accused of harassment or stalking. Read on to see their advice.
What is Considered Most of what makes behaviour criminally offensive
involves the intention behind the actions involved – and those accused often do not believe, or were not aware, that the behaviour for which they were reported could be considered criminally offensive.
According to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, a person may be reported to the police for stalking if they have:
- Followed the alleged victim
- Contacted, or attempted to contact, the alleged victim by any means,
- Published any statement or other material relating or purporting to relate to the alleged victim, or purporting to originate from the alleged victim
- Monitored the alleged victim’s use of of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,
- Interfered with any property in the possession of the alleged victim
- Watched or spied on the alleged victim
A complaint of harassment may be made if an alleged victim has reported:
- The making or sending of threats against them
- Ongoing verbal or written abuse
- Repeated damage to their property or belongings
- Unwanted physical interaction with them
- The spreading of malicious information or rumours about them online or elsewhere
The behaviours above may form part of either kind of offence.
The spectrum of stalking and harassment is much broader still, but a person is more likely to be charged with these offences if it is believed that they have behaved in the manner they have because:
- They are dangerously fixated or obsessed with the victim
- They intended to violate the victim’s dignity or create an interrogating, degrading, hostile, offensive or humiliating environment for them
- They intended to cause the victim to fear for their safety and/or suffer substantial alarm or emotional distress
Actions are more likely to be considered stalking and harassment if they have occurred repeatedly over time.
Social Media and Stalking and Harassment
The advent of the internet has provided further platforms for stalking and harassment to take place. Bullying or unwanted surveillance via social media or electronic correspondence – otherwise known as cyberstalking, is widespread and difficult to combat as identities are easier to hide online. This offence is considered as serious as all other types of stalking and harassment and is punishable by the same sentencing methods.
Likely Sentence for Stalking and Harassment
Penalties for stalking and harassment can vary depending on the motives behind the actions in question and their impact on the victims involved.
Likely sentences for harassment and stalking can reach up to ten years but can be extended to fourteen if the perpetrator’s behaviour is found to have been racially or religiously motivated.
For more minor offences, a guilty party may be asked to pay a fine or compensation order outlined by the court and may be required to become the subject of a restraining order or to undertake a community order as well.
What To Do if I’ve Been Accused of Stalking and Harassment
As soon as you hear of any potential allegations against you, it’s extremely important that you seek legal representation and work closely with your chosen solicitors to collect evidence proving your innocence. Because stalking and harassment charges are heavily reliant on proving the intention of the accused to cause feelings of fear, distress, humiliation or degradation, the ability to prove that your behaviour was free of any of these motives may mean you can argue that your actions did not amount to stalking or harassment.