Stalking Offences in Victoria: Charges, Court Process, Penalties, and Examples
Stalking is a criminal offence in Victoria, Australia. It involves engaging in a course of conduct that causes the victim to fear for their safety or the safety of another person. The law governing stalking offences in Victoria is primarily contained in the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).
How Police Lay Charges:
- Reporting the Offence: The process usually begins with the victim or a witness reporting the offence to the police. The police will then conduct an investigation, which may involve collecting physical evidence, interviewing witnesses, and obtaining statements.
- Laying of Charges: If the police believe there is enough evidence, they will lay charges against the offender. The offender will then be arrested and brought before a court.
- Filing Hearing: After the charges are laid, the first court appearance is usually a filing hearing. During this hearing, the charges will be read out, and the accused will be asked to enter a plea. The accused does not need to enter a plea at this stage, and the matter will usually be adjourned to a later date.
- Contest Mention: If the accused pleads not guilty, the matter will proceed to a contest mention. During this hearing, the magistrate will consider the evidence and decide whether the matter should proceed to a contested hearing.
- Contested Hearing: During the contested hearing, the prosecution and the defence will present their cases to the magistrate. The magistrate will then decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty.
- Sentencing: If the accused is found guilty, the court will then impose a sentence. The maximum penalty for stalking in Victoria is 10 years imprisonment. However, the actual penalty imposed may be lesser, depending on the circumstances of the case. The court will consider various factors, such as the level of fear caused to the victim, the duration of the stalking, and the offender’s prior criminal history.
Penalties for Stalking Offences
The penalties for stalking in Victoria can range from fines, community correction orders, to imprisonment. The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment, but the actual penalty imposed will depend on the circumstances of the case. Other factors that the court may consider when determining the penalty include the offender’s prior criminal history, whether the offender has shown remorse, and the likelihood of reoffending.
- Physical Stalking: An individual repeatedly follows the victim, either on foot or in a vehicle, over a period of time, causing the victim to fear for their safety.
- Online Stalking: An individual repeatedly sends threatening or unwanted messages to the victim via social media, email, or other online platforms.
- Telephone Stalking: An individual repeatedly calls the victim, either making threatening remarks or hanging up without speaking.
It is important to note that the legal process for dealing with stalking offences can be complex and stressful for all parties involved. It is always recommended to seek legal advice and support when dealing with such serious matters. Additionally, the above penalty is the maximum penalty, and the actual penalty imposed may be lesser, depending on the circumstances of the case