Restraining orders against stalkers now easier to obtain with new bill 1 week ago

Restraining orders against stalkers now easier to obtain with new bill

The maximum offence for stalking is now 10 years.

Victims of stalking will soon be able to receive restraining orders against the perpetrator without the need for a criminal prosecution.

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The new move is part of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022 published on Thursday (4 August).

The bill is expected to become law in autumn.

The definition of a harassment offence has been broadened to catch stalking at an earlier level, before it progresses to a more serious offence.

The offence "has been significantly expanded to cover any persistent conduct that seriously interferes with a person’s peace and privacy, or causes alarm, distress of harm," the Department of Justice said.

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The standalone offence of stalking now covers "any conduct that either puts the victim in fear of violence or causes the victim serious alarm and distress that has a substantial adverse impact on their usual day-to-day activities."

This includes following the victim, communicating, impersonating, interfering with property or pets, among other potential offences.

The maximum penalty for stalking is now 10 years in prison.

Other changes to the law including an increase on the maximum sentence for assault causing harm from five years to 10 years, an increase of the sentence for conspiracy to murder to a life sentence, and making non-fatal strangulation a standalone offence.

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Strangulation is the second most common method in adult female homicide, following stabbing.

“Most assaults can only be prosecuted at the lower levels, especially where the victim has fully or mostly recovered," said Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

“Even where a judge considers the offence as among the most serious, they are limited in their sentencing to five years, and may have to reduce that further to reflect mitigating factors such as a guilty plea.”

“The creation of this new offence [conspiracy to murder] and the imposition of a life sentence for it underlines the Government’s commitment to tackling serious crime and will ensure that An Garda Síochána and our Courts have the tools they need to take firm and decisive action to deal with our most serious criminals.”

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