Sec 646.9 of the California Penal Code defines stalking is the commission of acts that harass or threaten another person to the point where the victim fears for their safety or the safety of their family.

This crime is often associated with the following criminal acts in the California Penal Code:

• Domestic violence cases;
• Cyberstalking;
• Workplace stalking;

The California stalking laws have changed over time, but the current law prohibits the following acts:

• Following or harassing another person;
• Threatening that person with the intent of placing them in a state of fear for their safety or for the safety of their immediate family;

The following are the elements of the crime of stalking:

• The accused had willfully, maliciously and repeatedly followed the victim or willfully and maliciously harassed another individual;
• The accused had made a credible threat against the person or victim;
• The accused had a specific intent to place the individual in reasonable fear for their safety or for the safety of their immediate family;

If the object of the stalking had obtained a valid temporary restraining order, injunction or other court issued protection order against the accused, the prosecutor must prove that the accused had a valid protective order in effect during the period of the conduct of the illegal acts which effectively prohibited and made illegal the activities undertaken.

This criminal act is considered as a wobbler or a crime that can be prosecuted either as misdemeanor or a felony offense, depending upon the factual circumstances and the criminal history of the accused. If the victim of the stalking had a valid protective order issued against the accused or stalking another person when previously convicted for the same crime, then the crime is prosecuted as a felony offense.

For the misdemeanor stalking offense, the imposable penalties include informal probation, imprisonment of up to one (1) year in county jail, payment of a fine of up to $1,000, attendance in counseling or possible confinement in a mental hospital and issuance of a permanent restraining order prohibiting contact with the alleged victim.

For the felony stalking offense, the penalties are formal probation, imprisonment between sixteen (16) months to five (5) years in state prison, payment of a fine of up to $1,000, mandatory counseling as well as confinement in a mental institution, issuance of a permanent restraining order to prohibit contact with the victim and possible registration as a sex offender under Sec 290 of the California Penal Code.

The crime of stalking is a serious offense in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.