New Zealand Police v Hicks [2018] NZDC 6846

Published 16 April 2019

Causing harm by posting digital communication — discharge without conviction — Z v R [2012] NZCA 607 — Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015, s 22 — Sentencing Act 2002, s 106. The defendant pleaded guilty to one charge of causing harm by posting a digital communication, and applied to be discharged without conviction. The police did not oppose the application. The defendant had emailed pictures to the complainant and three mutual friends; he thought the complainant had disclosed personal information about him. The offending had had a significant impact on the complainant. In deciding whether to grant the application, the Court had to follow the three-step process set out in Z v R: consider the gravity of the offending; identify the consequences of conviction on the defendant; and consider whether those consequences are out of proportion to the gravity of the offence. The Court must then exercise its discretion whether to grant a discharge. Taking all factors into account, the Court assessed the offending to be of low gravity. Given this, plus the defendant's guilty plea and the employment consequences of a conviction, the Court found that a conviction would be out of proportion to the gravity of the offending. The Court granted a discharge without conviction, but ordered the defendant to pay $500 compensation plus court costs of $130. The Court also ordered that the defendant provide a written undertaking to permanently delete all images of the complainant. Judgment Date: 10 April 2018. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *