What constitutes an act of intimidation can be confusing. The summary below discusses relevant law, definitions and penalties associated with the offence of intimidation.
What law is relevant?
Section 13 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW) primarily governs the offence of intimidation during a domestic relationship. Section 13 of the Act states that a person will be found guilty if they stalk or intimidate another person with the intention of causing the other person to fear physical or mental harm.
Section 545B of the Crimes Act 1900 also governs intimidation or annoyance by violence. This section has a broader stance on what actions are to be considered intimidation.
What is intimidation?
Section 7 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 defines intimidation as conduct (including cyberbullying) amounting to harassment, molestation or an approach made to the person by any means (such as telephone, text messages, emails and other technological means) that causes the person to fear for his or her safety. Further, intimidation is considered to be any conduct that causes a reasonable apprehension of injury to a person or to a person with whom he or she has a domestic relationship (i.e. new partner) or of violence or damage to any person or property.
Section 545B of the Crimes Act 2007 defines the following acts to be an act of intimidation:
- Uses violence, intimidation or does any injury toward such other person or that other person or that other person’s spouse, de facto partner, child or dependant; or
- Follows such other person about from place to place; or
- Hides any tools, clothes, or other property owned or used by such other person, or deprives that other person of or hinders that other person in the use of thereof; or
- Follows such other person with two or more other persons in a disorderly manner in or through any street, road or public place.
Put simply intimidation is any attempt to contact a person with the intent to inflict fear whether that be damaging people, property, or one’s safety.
Will domestic violence history be considered?
In short, yes. A court may consider any pattern of violence in the person’s behaviour, in particular to violence constituting a domestic offence.
What are the penalties?
The penalty for breaching section 13 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 is imprisonment for 5 years or 50 penalty units ($5,500) or both.
The penalty for breaching section 545B of the Crimes Act 1900 is imprisonment for 2 years or 50 penalty units ($5,500) or both.
What protections can be put in place to protect me?
Applying for an AVO or ADVO is a good step as they provide protection to you and family members. If you are in a domestic and family violence situation, an ADVO is most relevant to you as it is capable of being modified to reflect your circumstance.
What is an AVO?
An apprehended violence order is an order made by the court against a person who makes you fear for your safety. An AVO can protect you from further violence, intimidation or harassment. The person who the order is made against must obey the order or they be charged with a criminal offence. There are two types of AVOs; an ADVO or an APVO. An APVO is an apprehended personal violence order can be used to protect yourself from someone who isn’t related to you, such as a neighbour or colleague.
What is an ADVO?
An apprehended domestic violence order is a court order that aims to protect you from future violent behaviour by restricting the person who is abusive towards you. An ADVO can be tailored to your own situation so that it can provide the best possible protection. An ADVO cannot order the person to do something i.e. take part in an anger management course, it can only stop a person from doing something i.e. coming to your house. An ADVO is not a criminal offence and is not listed on the violent person’s record. However, a breach of an ADVO could lead to a criminal offence as it is a breach of a court order.
NSW Domestic Violence Line – 1800 656 463 – Provides 24/7 telephone counselling, information and referrals for women and same-sex partners who are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence.
1800RESPECT – This 24-hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is general and is not intended to be advice on any matter. It is for information only and is not legal advice. In the event of a legal problem, you should seek legal advice.