Section 39 (aka Harassment)

A section 39 offence aka harassment and stalking has become an increasingly prominent allegation in society as people put more about themselves online these days. Stalking Scotland lawyers are available from Graham Walker Solicitors to take on allegations of stalking behaviour and stalking charges from the prosecution.

Section 39 (Harassment) FAQ

A: A section 39 offence from the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, in Scotland is the offence of stalking (harassment). Not to be confused with section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 which covers common assault charges.
A: Yes. Stalking is a crime under the Criminal Licensing and Justice (Scotland) Act 2010.

Being accused of abusive or threatening behaviour by someone you know can be a worrying time. However, there are ways you can handle it if you take quick action and get good legal advice.

Actions like unwanted phone calls, verbal abuse or using animals to scare another person may constitute harassment. Under Section 39 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, you can be prosecuted for these actions.

Proving an allegation

To prove an allegation of harassment, a criminal lawyer will need to show the alleged victim has been suffering from unwanted conduct by another person. This conduct has to cause the alleged victim distress or alarm. This could be the types of online or in-person crimes mentioned above, but really anything that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Whether you are the accused, or the victim, in this situation, we would advise that you first get legal support about the protections offered to you under law. The stalking Scotland and harassment lawyers team at Graham Walker Solicitors is always available to go through your options. We will explain how you go about stopping abusive behaviour or defending yourself from allegations you disagree with.

Stalking charges

Stalking is becoming an increasingly common type of harassment. Section 39 allows someone to be charged with this crime after two incidents or concerning behaviour reported to the police. If the allegation is threatening or abusive, then only a single incident needs to be reported.

After the charge has been agreed, the court’s representatives can give down orders such as an interdict or a non-harassment order. This insists that the named person keeps away from the victim of harassment and imposes penalties if they don’t.

A non-harassment order may also be connected to the power of arrest. This means that a person can be immediately arrested for breaking the terms of the order. In the case of an interdict, the police can become involved if the terms are broken. The victim may also claim compensation.

Stalking lawyer

If stalking allegations have been made against you, you must speak to a lawyer immediately. Stalking behaviour can range from what can initially seem as unthreatening repeated behaviour, such as sending gifts, hanging around the victim’s home, neighbourhood or place of work, to explicit threats and attacks on the complainer or their property.

Forms of stalking behaviour and harassment

The behaviour can also be towards the victims’ family members, known as ‘stalking by proxy’. Stalking charges can result in Interdicts and Non-Harassment Orders being served or could lead to fines or prison sentences. Our lawyers have the expertise and knowledge in this field to represent you and ensure that you have the best possible defence. 

Since the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, stalking has been a criminal offence. Similarly to breach of the peace, stalking broadly covers any conduct that causes another person fear or alarm. A variety of behaviours can be considered threatening these are:

  • Following someone 
  • Repeatedly contacting someone or attempting to contact someone. 
  • Publishing a statement/material that either relates to a person or gives the impression it originates from that person.
  • Monitoring a person’s electronic communications such as emails, use of the internet
  • Entering any premises
  • Loitering in a public or private place
  • Interfering with the property of a person
  • Giving a possession to a person or someone they know, or leaving something where they will find it
  • Watching or spying on someone
  • Anything else that could cause fear or alarm to any reasonable person

How are stalking charges brought by the prosecution?

A prison sentence of up to 5 years can be the penalty for stalking. For the prosecution to sentence a person, it must be shown that a course of conduct from the defendant amounted to stalking. More serious cases of stalking where it can be demonstrated a defendant induced fear of violence towards the victim or caused serious alarm or distress. If this behaviour from the defendant had a significant effect on the victim’s day-to-day life, then the maximum 5 years penalty can be applied. 

Even if you did not intend to cause fear or for a victim to feel threatened, this is not a defence. A person should know what is likely to cause fear or alarm in another person. As such, it cannot be argued that the behaviour towards the victim was not stalking if the defendant was doing it for another reason.

Stalking Scotland investigations

The police investigate claims of stalking and take them seriously. If the police believe there is sufficient evidence, then they will bring forward stalking charges. Bail conditions may be set to protect victims. These conditions may include prohibiting contact with the victim in person or through any electronic means. The Procurator Fiscal can apply for a non-harassment order which preventing a person convicted of stalking from engaging in certain behaviours. A victim can apply for Civil Orders regardless of a police investigation. These Civil Orders depend on the relationship the alleged victim has with the alleged culprit. Civil Orders can result in an alleged culprit paying damages for the fear or alarm they caused.

Section 39 defence

There are several defences available to people accused under Section 39, and Matthew Berlow at Graham Walker Solicitors are well-equipped to advocate for the best outcome for their clients. We can work with accusations of cyber-stalking or bullying, identity theft and ‘phishing’, Illegal downloading (copyright theft) and hacking or spreading malicious content.

Another growing area of law relates to social media harassment – particularly libel, hate speech, or other bullying types on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Accusations may include sending large numbers of messages via applications like Facebook or WhatsApp. These cases can be effectively managed when carefully approached. Get in touch for more details.

Stalking and harassment lawyers

We’re proud of our 24/7 lawyer service and operate quickly and efficiently across Glasgow, Ayr, Kilmarnock, Coatbridge, Airdrie, Hamilton and Motherwell. As the internet grows, so does the risk of being caught up in an unfair allegation. We’re here to help. Contact us today. Our Stalking Scotland lawyers are ready to take your call and defend stalking charges. We are available 24/7 so call now.