If you are being harassed, you may be able to apply to the District Court for a restraining order under the HARASSMENT ACT 1997. This Act gives protection to victims of harassment who are not protected under the DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT 1995.
Whether you can get protection under the Act depends on whether the behaviour in question comes within the meaning of "harassment" as the word is defined in the Act. Under the Act, "harassment" means a pattern of behaviour directed against you that includes doing to you any "specified act" on at least two separate occasions within a 12-month period.
A "specified act" is defined as:
If you are being harassed, you should apply to your local District Court for a restraining order to be made against the person harassing you (the "respondent"). The application is made "on notice", which means that the respondent is notified about your application. The court will hold a hearing, and the respondent is entitled to attend and be heard there.
You cannot apply for a restraining order if you are or have been in a domestic relationship with the other person. If that is the case, you will be covered by the protection offered under the DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT 1995 (see How to obtain a protection order under the Domestic Violence Act).
There are five preconditions that must all be met before the court will issue a restraining order. These are that:
A restraining order prevents the respondent from harassing or threatening to harass you. It also prevents the respondent from encouraging anyone else to harass you. The court can impose any special conditions that are necessary to protect you.
The order stays in force for as long as the court considers necessary.
It is a criminal offence to breach a restraining order without a reasonable excuse. The penalty is a prison term of up to six months or a fine of up to $5,000. The maximum prison term increases for repeated breaches.
As well as making it a criminal offence to breach a restraining order, the Act also sets up a criminal offence of harassment that will apply even if a restraining order has not already been made. This offence is committed if:
The penalty for this offence is a prison term of up to two years.
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