At times understanding legislature can bring about challenge. One must first skim out the unnecessary wording to find the most important points. In order to fully measure the content for the Harassment Act of 1997 in New Zealand (NZ), one needs to take into account the different types of physical acts which fall under harassment. In addition to this, it’s important to know what time frame of repeated harassment behavior is considered a threat under this legislative act, as well as the differences between criminal and civil harassment.
Any one individual repeatedly engaging in a pattern of behavior that is directed against another person, at a minimum of 2 separate occasions within a period of 12 months, is noted as harassing the other. These acts of harassment at different occasions may or may not be the same type of act. However, the acts must be directed against the same individual.
Physical acts pinned as harassment are any of the following acts:
1. A person should be secure in his or her place of business, employment, residence or other frequently visited public or private places by this person. If another individual is seen watching the original said person, loitering near any of the said establishments, preventing access to or from any of the said establishments then this individual is considered harassing the original said person.
2. If one person follows another, stopping them from going about their business
3. If one person enters or interfers with property of the person in question’s possession
4. If one person makes frequent contact with the person in question (any communication, such as by telephone, correspondance, etc.)
5. If one person gives offensive material to the person in question or leaves it in an area where it will easily be found by, put in the possesion of or brought to the attention of that person
6. Acting in ways
a) That cause the person in question to fear for his or her safety; and
b) That would cause others considered reasonable undergoing the same circumstance to fear for his or her safety
This being said, one can be sure that if an act of harassment is done to any one person, or to any other individual with whom this one person is in a family relationship, then this legislative law may be put into action. To dive deeper into this possible sea of confusion, there are two different forms of harassment under this law: criminal and civil. It seems logical to begin speaking about civil harassment as this would most likely be one’s first course of action.
Any person who is being or has been harassed by another person may apply to the court for a restraining order in respect of that other person.
All those who commit an offence and, without reasonable excuse, do any act in contravention of a restraining order, or fails to comply with any condition of a restraining order, is liable, on summary of conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not exceeding $5,000. All those who commit an offence are liable, on summary of conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years if that person has previously been convicted on at least two different occasions of a qualifying offence, and at least two of those qualifying offences were committed not earlier than 3 years before the commission of the offence being dealt with by the court. A qualifying offence, in relation to the offence being dealt with by the court, is an offence where the two offences are committed in respect of the same restraining order or restraining orders made for the benefit of the same person.
This seems to define which cases are actually considered intentional harassment and what is to be done to that person if found guilty of this act.
1) An individual is found guilty of harassment in any case where
a) The person in question intends that harassment to cause that other person to fear for
i) That other person’s safety; or
ii) The safety of any family member of that person; or
b) The person in question knows that this action of harassment will likely cause the other person, depending on his or her particular situations, to reasonably fear for
i) his or her safety; or
ii) The safety of any family member of this person
2) An individual found guilty of this offence is liable, on summary of conviction, to imprisonment for a term which may not exceed 2 years.
To conclude: An act of civil harassment begins first as a complaint from one individual against another which then leads to a restraining order and may be pursued further depending upon the situation. On the other end of the spectrum sparkles the more intense criminal harassment which stems from an individual’s intention to harass another.