The Story In 60 Seconds
- Previously, victims of stalking had very little legal recourse to seek protection against a stalker. But with the introduction of the Protection From Harassment Act 2014 (POHA), they can now seek both civil and criminal sanctions against the stalker.
- Generally, a stalker can be defined if the perpetrator persistently follows you, communicates with you, and keeps you under surveillance, among other characteristics.
- If you are currently being stalked or harassed by this perpetrator, then you may consider pursuing the following options:
- Making a Magistrate’s Complaint against the perpetrator, or filing a police report for unlawful stalking;
- Applying for a Protection Order; and/or
- Suing the perpetrator for financial compensation.
With the introduction of the Protection From Harassment Act 2014 (POHA), there are now specific laws in Singapore that directly addresses the issue of stalking. Prior to POHA , there were no specific laws that the victim of a stalker could tap on in order to seek protection from such harassment.
One of the key features of POHA is its ability to cover all unlawful stalking acts – whether it is committed in Singapore or overseas – as long as the victim was based in Singapore, or if the stalker had reason to believe that the victim would be in Singapore at the point of harassment.
How is stalking defined?
According to POHA, unlawful stalking is a criminal offense, and it can be defined in the following ways:
- Following you, or people you know, around;
- Persistently communicating with you, or attempting to communicate with you (via SMS, telephone calls, emails etc) despite you telling the perpetrator not to;
- Entering or loitering in any place that is outside or near a location that is frequented by you or people you know;
- Interfering with property that belongs to you or a person you know;
- Giving or sending material to you or a person you know (including leaving the items in a location where it would likely be brought to you or a related person); and
- Keeping you or someone you know under surveillance.
I’m being stalked! What should I do?
As a general rule, it is a good habit to maintain your privacy by not overly sharing personal details or identifying characteristics of your regular movements – as this may potentially provide the stalker with the necessary knowledge to harass you.
But if you are currently being stalked or harassed by this perpetrator, then you may consider pursuing the following options:
- Making a Magistrate’s Complaint against the stalker, or filing a police report against that person;
- Applying for a Protection Order;
- Suing the stalker for financial compensation.
Making a complaint against the stalker
If you are being stalked, you may make a Magistrate’s Complaint against the stalker, or file a police report against the perpetrator.
A Magistrate’s Complaint can be filed by any person who wishes to seek redress for an offence that they believe has been committed against them. Once the complaint has been made, the Court will proceed to launch an investigation and determine if an offence has been committed. The process for making the complaint may be found here.
Applying for a protection order
A Protection Order (PO) is a legal option set out in POHA that can be used to protect you from further instances of unlawful stalking. However, the PO only lasts for a specified period of time, and can be subsequently changed, suspended, or cancelled if required.
Depending on the circumstances, you can request for the Protection Order to:
- Prohibit your stalker from doing any action or thing that would harass you (and other related persons);
- Prevent the stalker from publishing, or continuing to publish an offending communication related to you;
- Refer your stalker, yourself, or both of you, to attend counselling or mediation sessions;
- Arrange for all necessary actions to ensure that any (or all) of the other three actions listed above can be properly carried out.
If the circumstances require an urgent intervention, an Expedited Protection Order (EPO) may be issued. An EPO is like a Protection Order, but is granted only when certain conditions have been met. In addition, the EPO is a temporary order that will automatically expire after 28 days or on the first day of the hearing for a Protection Order, whichever is earlier.
If the stalker breaches the PO, it will be considered a criminal offence, and they may face penalties ranging from being fined up to SGD$5,000 to imprisonment for a maximum of 12 months, or both. Repeat offenders can either be fined up to SGD$10,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.
Suing the stalker
While a convicted offender may be ordered by the Court to pay financial compensation to someone who has suffered from the actions of the offender under section 359 of the Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”), such compensation orders are seldom given for cases involving molestation and other forms of harassment. With POHA, victims of stalking may seek to obtain financial compensation against the stalker by enlisting the services of a lawyer to file a civil lawsuit.
We recently noticed a spate in the number of cases involving couples who broke up and either one refused to accept the break-up resulting in the other party filing a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act. Prior to the amendments to the law and introduction of the Protection from Harassment Act, a victim of harassment had to file a Magistrate’s Complaint and also pursue a civil suit separately. However, now both processes are merged into a single procedure of filing a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act and in that form the victim should state if he/she intends to seek financial compensation too.
It is also important to note that stalking is no longer limited to physical stalking but also extends to online, phone calls, text messages and other communication modes. Further, the victim can also seek an injunction to stop the stalker from harassing the victim through the same process under the Protection from Harassment Act. Any breach of the temporary order or the final orders will expose the stalker to serious criminal sanctions under the provisions of the Protection from Harassment Act.
Have a question or need legal advice?
If you have a legal question regarding legal issues concerning pornography, you can request a quote with Pratap Kishan or other lawyers. With Quick Consult, you can check out in minutes and for a transparent, flat fee from S$49, the lawyers will call you back on the phone within 1-2 days to answer your questions and give you legal advice.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to a practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.