What type of behaviour is stalking?
Your behaviour can be stalking even if you do not think you are stalking another person.
It can be stalking if you are:
- following a person or
- hanging around (loitering) near where they work or live or
- you are repeatedly contacting a person or
- intimidating or harassing them or
- threatening or committing acts of violence against somebody.
It can be stalking even if it just happened once, or if it happened over a drawn out period or for a long time. For example following somebody for hours.
Does the other person have to be afraid?
It doesn't matter that you didn't intend to stalk the other person or that the other person wasn't really intimidated, afraid or caused serious harm. If the behaviour is the sort of behaviour that would normally cause a person to feel that way or to suffer harm, then it is stalking.
When does the behaviour not amount to stalking?
If the behaviour is part of an industrial relations dispute, a political or genuine public dispute, related to public interest issues or legitimate business reasons then it's not stalking.
What are the penalties for stalking?
The maximum penalty for stalking is five years imprisonment. But, in more serious cases e.g. where the stalker has used violence, has a weapon, breached a domestic violence order or another restraining order the maximum penalty is seven years imprisonment.
Even if you are not found guilty the judge or magistrate hearing the matter can still consider making a restraining order based on their own discretion or upon application by the prosecutor or interested person.
What can a person who is being stalked do?
If you are being stalked you can make a complaint to the police and if there is sufficient evidence, charges can be laid against the stalker. If the person accused of stalking does not admit to the offence you may be required to give evidence in court.
If the suspected stalker is:
- a current or former spouse or defacto partner
- a relative by blood or marriage
- someone in an intimate personal relationship; or
- an informal care relationship
you can get legal advice about a domestic violence order.
In other cases, if the stalking behaviour includes violence, threats of violence, damage to property or threats of damage to property, get legal advice about a peace and good behaviour order.
Do I need legal advice?
You may need legal advice if you
- have been charged with stalking or a related offence
- have been asked to participate in a police interview about a possible stalking offence
- believe you are being stalked and want advice about a domestic violence order
- believe you are being stalked and want advice about a peace and good behaviour order.
Where can I get legal advice
Legal Aid Queensland may give advice about stalking, including advice about domestic violence orders and peace and good behaviour orders.
If you have been charged with a serious offence or you have an urgent matter, we may suggest you apply for a grant of legal aid if you are eligible, or seek private representation, rather than waiting for a legal advice booking.
Legal Aid Queensland cannot provide you with a lawyer to attend a police interview.
These organisations may also give you legal advice.
Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to see if they can help with your matter.
Women's Legal Service gives legal advice to women on a range of issues, including stalking, domestic violence, family law, and sexual harassment. Advice is available face to face for clients near an office, or by telephone from anywhere in Queensland.
Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.
Who else can help?
The following services may also be able to help you. They do not give legal advice.
Queensland Government provide information about stalking and domestic violence.
DV Connect provides a 24 hour state wide service to women and their children experiencing domestic violence.
Mensline - DV Connect provides information, counselling and referral on relationships, health, family and domestic violence.