This offence has come to the attention of the general public quite regularly over the last few years, particularly in view of the reported cases involving a number of celebrities, amongst the most recent being Christine Lampard the television presenter and the international pop star, Taylor Swift.
John Veale of Kangs Solicitors outlines the basics of the offence.
The Law | Kangs Criminal Defence Lawyers
The existing offence of harassment, defined by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, was re-enforced by The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (‘the Act’) which states:
111 Offences in relation to stalking
‘2A Offence of stalking
A person is guilty of an offence if –
- the person pursues a course of conduct in breach of section 1(1), and
- the course of conduct amounts to stalking
For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) (and section 4A(1) (a) a person’s course of conduct amounts to stalking of another person if-
- it amounts to harassment of that person
- the acts or omissions involved are ones associated with stalking, and
- the person whose course of conduct it is knows or ought to know that the course of conduct amounts to harassment of the other person.’
The offence of stalking is in effect harassment that involves a course of conduct that amounts to stalking
There are two offences.
- Stalking involving the fear of violence or serious alarm or distress.
What is Stalking? | Solicitors Defending Stalking & Harassment Cases
The Act provides at 2A(3) that the following are acts or omissions which can be associated with stalking:
- following a person
- making contact or trying to contact a person by any means
- following a person’s use of the internet, email or other electronic
- publishing material on social media about a person or purporting to have come from that person.
- watching or spying on a person/loitering in any place
- interfering with or taking a person’s property
Stalking Involving Fear of Violence or Serious Alarm or Distress | Kangs Serious Crime Solicitors
This serious level of stalking is covered by s. 4A of the Act:
A person (A) whose course of conduct –
- amounts to stalking, and
- either –
- causes another (B) to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against (B) or
- causes B serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on B’s usual day-to day activities
is guilty of an offence if A knows or ought to know that A’s course of conduct will cause B so to fear on each of those occasions or (as the case may be) will cause such alarm or distress.
Potential Defence | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors
It is possible that an accused may have a defence to any charge by showing that the course of conduct:
- was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime.
- was pursued in compliance of a statutory requirement.
- was reasonable.
Court Sentencing | Defence Solicitors For Stalking Prosecutions
- The basic stalking offence is triable in the Magistrates’ Court only and carries a maximum sentence of twelve months imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding level 5.
- The more serious offence under s.4 of the Act can be heard either in the Magistrates’ Court, where the maximum sentence is twelve months imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or in the Crown Court where the maximum sentence is ten years imprisonment and/or a fine.
- A restraining order may also be imposed even if the accused is acquitted after a trial.
How Can We Help?| Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors
If you find yourself accused of stalking or any other offence, you should seek advice immediately and in order to ensure that you are properly represented.
If you require assistance please do not hesitate to contact our team through any of the following: