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What Constitutes Stalking Under California Law?

By Criminal Defense Attorney on August 15, 2013

Stalking is considered to be a serious criminal offense in the state of California. When one person repeatedly harasses or follows another person in an attempt to intentionally intimidate, frighten, scare or torment his or her intended target, he or she may be charged with stalking. Although in and of itself stalking is not a violent crime, stalking can leave itself victims fearing for their lives or the lives of their loved ones. Individuals who use email, social media or other online methods to harass or threaten another person, may be considered to be cyberstalkers and in violation of state law.

Simply following a person around does not constitute stalking. Under California Penal Code §646.9, stalking must include the act of making a credible threat that makes another person afraid for his or her safety. Continuously sending emails to another person saying they'd better do as you say "or else" can be considering as stalking. Posting regular messages or photos to online chat rooms that contain another person's private or personal information may constitute stalking.

Frequently sitting outside someone's house, or following them back home, and making repeated threatening statements or gestures of violence could be considered as stalking. Leaving multiple threatening voice messages on a person's phone may warrant a temporary restraining order and other legal consequences. It is important to know that California stalking victims do not need to prove their stalker actually intended to carry out the threat, simply proving the threat took place is enough to file charges of stalking.

Penalties for a stalking conviction can vary from small fines and up to a year in jail, to extensive fines and multiple years in a California state prison. The imposed penalties will depend on the extent of the stalking, if the stalker committed any act of violence (or threatened to kill or harm) and whether the alleged stalker was in violation of an existing restraining order at the time the stalking took place.

If you have been accused of stalking, your freedom and future are at stake. We advise you call our firm and schedule to meet with former police officer and Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, Attorney James N. Dicks as soon as possible. When you do, we will take immediate measures to investigate the charges against you and prepare an aggressive strategy to help protect your rights. Contact a San Diego criminal defense lawyer at JD Law today.

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