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Communtity Law Manual | Harassment & bullying | Breaches of restraining orders

Harassment in the community: Getting protection under the Harassment Act

Breaches of restraining orders

What kinds of behaviour will breach the restraining order?

Harassment Act 1997, s 25

Unless the harasser has a reasonable excuse, it will be a breach of the restraining order, and a criminal office, if they don’t follow the conditions of the order or if they act in a way that’s inconsistent with the order.

It will therefore be a criminal offence for the harasser to contact you in any way, or to do things like watching or hanging around outside your home, or following you or stopping you in the street, or doing anything else that gives you a reasonable fear for your safety.

The order also makes it illegal for the harasser to threaten to do any of those things, or to encourage another person to do any of those things to you.

Note: For a full list of the kinds of behaviour that are banned under a restraining order, see “What counts as ‘harassment’” above in this chapter. Although to get a restraining order you have to show that there’s been a pattern of harassment, once the order is made it will be a breach and a criminal offence even if there’s just a single act of harassment.

As well as being charged with breaching a restraining order, the respondent can also be charged with any other crime committed at the same time, such as assault, theft, or misuse of a telephone.

What’s the penalty for breaching a restraining order?

Harassment Act 1997, s 25

If the harasser breaches the restraining order, they can be jailed for up to six months or fined up to $5,000.

However, they can be jailed for up to two years if they’ve already been convicted twice in the last three years of breaching a restraining order made to protect you. This heavier penalty applies whether the earlier convictions related to the same restraining order or to a separate restraining order made to protect you.

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