Stalking is a crime in all 50 states, while interstate stalking is a federal offense.
Stalking laws vary from state to state, but all states now have some type
of law against stalking. In fact, stalking is considered such a serious
offense by most states that their prosecutorial agencies usually assign
special prosecutors to handle these types of cases. In California, especially
in Los Angeles, Law Enforcement and the Los Angeles County District and
City Attorney's offices recognize the danger and terror of the most
serious stalking incidents and are responding by aggressively prosecuting stalkers.
Stalking laws cover a wide range of behavior and related charges. Stalking
begins with repeated, bothersome and/or threatening behavior toward another
individual by means of the Internet, personal contact, telephone, cell
phone, email, facsimile or other methods of communication. When this unwanted
behavior persists and causes the other person to feel frightened, intimidated,
or harassed, it is considered stalking and is punishable by the state's
Section 646.9 of the California Penal Code defines stalking as:
- Willfully and maliciously and repeatedly
- Following or harassing another person and
- Making a credible threat verbally, in writing or by electronic communication device
- With the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily
injury to that person or to his or her immediate family.
In California, stalking can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor.
Aggravating factors and prior criminal history are important considerations
for prosecutors when they are determining whether to charge stalking as either a
felony. Prosecutors often include additional related charges, such as unlawful
trespassing, computer use, vandalism, burglary, criminal threats, and
obscene or threatening phone calls, when filing a stalking charge
First-time offenders will most likely be charged with misdemeanor stalking,
if there are no aggravating factors. A misdemeanor stalking conviction
can result in a sentence of up to one year in county jail, fines, counseling,
informal probation and a restraining order. Repeat offenders, including
those who stalk the same victim, would likely be charged with a felony
even if there were no other aggravating factors. Felony stalking is punishable
by up to five years in state prison. Stalking offenders with certain felony
Domestic Violence or Criminal Threats convictions are subject to up to ten (10) years in
state prison. A judge could also impose a ten (10) year restraining order
as well as sex offender registration.
Most stalking cases come down to a "she said- he said" type of
matter. However, with the advent of social media and cell phones (including
text messaging), stalking cases have dramatically changed, allowing law
enforcement agencies to track and document stalking behavior making it
easier to secure a conviction. Speaking to an alleged victim in a stalking
case in an attempt to get the victim to drop the case makes your situation
worse. Contacting law enforcement or the prosecutor in the hopes of getting
them to listen to your side of the story is absolutely the worst thing
you could do.
If you are being investigated for stalking or charged with stalking, consult
with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. The criminal
defense attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners believe that
taking a proactive approach can mean the difference between no charges
being filed and facing a felony or misdemeanor charge. Stalking charges
are serious and they require effective and aggressive representation.
Call the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez
& Partners for a no-cost confidential consultation.