If you think you’re being stalked and you are wrong, a court can tell you who may have been sending you unwanted emails or phone calls
How to know if you’re being stalked or are just paranoid
An internet “stalking epidemic” is estimated to be on the rise, with more than 200,000 victims each year in the UK. If you think you’re being stalked, a judge can tell you who may have been sending you unwanted emails or phone calls.
Can I be legally stalked?
A stalking offence is committed when there is an “opportunistic and persistent” attempt to intimidate or threaten a person, whether that contact is unwelcome or unwanted. Statutory guidelines say that where there is reasonable grounds to suspect stalking, a person can be entitled to bring a case before a criminal court. Your individual rights depend on where you live.
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At the crown court, judges assess and decide whether an offence has been committed – so when you speak to police and persuade them that someone is stalking you, they usually refer the matter to the crown court. Where it is a civil case, the law is somewhat different. Your rights are dependent on whether a person is still pestering you.
Cases are heard in magistrates court. Stalking is a criminal offence even where it is not a criminal offence. The Crown Prosecution Service, the body responsible for prosecuting civil cases, decides whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed. Victims who do not have a solicitor will probably not have a hearing or an opportunity to cross-examine the alleged stalker, and may not even meet the accused.
Where a criminal prosecution for stalking is taken, an opportunity for a victim to be heard will most likely be given. If police can’t trace the accused, a prosecution can be deferred. If police can find the accused’s address, then an adjournment may be granted. The judge, either in court or via a pre-trial conference with the accused, decides if sufficient grounds exist to allow the trial to go ahead, and if so whether it will be a criminal or civil case. In general, when court proceedings are postponed, only the action of the accused will remain the same.