Stalking – Diversion

Our client was charged with 3 instances of Stalking. At the time of the alleged offending, our client was only 20 years old.

What is alleged to have occured?
The offences were said to comprise stalking because they involved repeated and unwanted contact by our client towards the complainant, and because on other occasions, it involved an element of keeping the complainant under surveillance.

The offences were alleged to have occurred over a period of approximately 7 months. The offending did not involve repeated and persistent phone calls. Nor did the offending involve threatening behaviour.

Our client consented (on a without admission basis) to an Intervention Order in favour of the complainant. This order was for 12 months. Nine months after the order was made, charges (Stalking x 3) were filed in the Magistrates’ Court. They were later served on our client and required him to attend court in October 2015, approximately 2 weeks before the expiry of the IVO. Our client had at all times abided by the IVO.

What happened at court?
We acted on the client’s behalf at the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court.

Through protracted negotiations with the prosecution, our client was able to obtain a diversion. A diversion is a court outcome which enables an accused to avoid a criminal record. The need to avoid a criminal record was especially important for our client as he was only 21 and had an otherwise good work history, and had a bright future.

Stalking is a serious offence and would have had awful consequences for our client. The difficulty with a finding of guilt (whether with or without conviction) for the offence of stalking is that it is not possible for a third party (for example a potential employer) to discern from the criminal record where precisely the alleged stalking sits on the wide continuum of behaviours which, at law, can amount to stalking. The offence of stalking often connotes the most sinister of circumstances in the minds of the broader community.

In this case, it was difficult to see that charging our client with stalking was a proportional response, or was in the public interest, having regard to his age, lack of criminal history, the lack of aggravating features of the offence, and his compliance on the IVO. Furthermore, the charges had come so long after he took a sensible and pragmatic approach to the complainant’s wishes by agreeing to an IVO in the first place.

It should also be noted that there was a real argument as to whether the behaviour complained of could have met the statutory criteria for stalking having regard to several factors.

What was the result?
Sensibly, and after the matter proceeded through several case conferences and a contest mention, the prosecution agreed to a court diversion.

An application proceeded and our client presented several compelling testimonials from previous employers and family friends who all attested to his good character. The Court accepted our client’s behaviour was borne out of immaturity rather than any sinister intent. The court also accepted our client’s good character, and that he was most unlikely to return to court. This court outcome means that our client avoids being burdened with a criminal record for stalking.
DISCLAIMER: This is a real case study of an actual case from our files. Details pertaining to the client have been changed to protect their privacy. The sentence imposed and the charge have not been altered. These case studies are published to demonstrate real outcomes and give an indication of possible tariffs in Court. We do not guarantee a similar case on these charges will get the same result. Please note that we post results at our discretion, therefore while many case studies are average results, others are notable for their exceptional outcomes. PUBLISHED 14/06/2016