Legal help when being harassed
If you're being harassed by someone you're not in a relationship with, you can apply for a restraining order.
Harassment has a legal definition — on at least two separate occasions within a period of 12 months, the harasser needs to have committed “specific acts”, like:
- following you
- entering your property without your permission
- unwanted or threatening phone calls or letters
- giving you offensive material
- doing something that makes you fear for your safety.
Harassment is limited to intimidating behaviour — if the person has attacked you or destroyed your property, talk to the Police about criminal charges.
Applying for a restraining order
You can apply to the District Court for a restraining order if you’re being stalked or harassed by someone and fear for your safety. A restraining order legally prevents that person from contacting you. It can also be used to protect your children if you’re worried about their safety.
- To apply for a restraining order, you need to complete these forms from the Ministry of Justice:
- application for a restraining order
- notice of proceeding, and
- Sign the forms, or get your lawyer to sign the forms, in front of a Justice of the Peace or Deputy Registrar.
- Take the documents to your local District Court.
There is no application fee, but if you ask a lawyer to help you, you’ll need to pay their fees. If you’re on a benefit or low income, you might be eligible for civil legal aid.
If you do not know the person who’s harassing you
If you do not know the name or address of the person harassing you, you can make a complaint to the Police with any information you have that could help them find and identify the harasser, like what they look like or where you’ve seen them.
If the Police have reasonable grounds to believe they’ve identified the harasser, they can make them give their name and address. If the person refuses or gives false information, they can be:
- fined up to $500, and
- arrested if they continue to refuse after the Police have warned them.
You can then ask the Police to give this information to the court registrar so that you can complete your application.
Protecting your privacy
You can keep your address confidential by filling out a form you can get from your local District Court — this means the court will know your address, but the person the order is against will not get a copy.
Once you have a restraining order, you can choose not to have your name published on the electoral roll.