The Crime of Stalking in California - PC 646.9 PC
In a domestic violence case, the criminal offense of stalking is a serious issue. California has some of the toughest and most comprehensive laws in the United States.
Stalking is covered under California Penal Code 646.9 and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense depending on the specific circumstances, including location, whether or not it's a violation of a restraining order, criminal history, among other factors.
If you have charged or under investigation for stalking, you need to consult with our criminal defense attorneys immediately. We have successfully defended many clients against stalking charges related to domestic violence for over five decades.
With our vast experience and knowledge, we offer aggressive legal representation.
Stalking Crimes in Los Angeles, California
With current technology and the rise of internet use, stalking crimes are now much more common.
Typically, stalking criminal offenses are related to domestic violence, but not in every case.
By law, there are certain elements of the crime that must be proven in order to be charges or convicted of a stalking offense, these include:
- Willfully and maliciously harassing or following another person;
- Making credible threats against another person either by writing, verbally, or with electronic devices;
- The credible threats were made with the specific intent to place the person in reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of their family.
Examples of A Stalking Criminal Case
There are many examples of behavior that could lead to filing of stalking criminal charges in California, including:
- Following the victim;
- Sending frequent unsolicited communications, such as emails, texts, annoying phone calls, or messages;
- Sending unwanted gifts or flowers to the victim;
- Gathering excessive information about the victim;
- Cyberstalking behavior, such as posting false information, sending threatening or obscene messages to the victim or members of their family. Ordering merchandise or other services online in the victims name. Posting threats wit the specific intent to encourage others to engage in criminal activity.
Stalking Legal Penalties in Los Angeles
If convicted of stalking, the penalties are typically harsh. A stalking offense is a “wobbler,” meaning the prosecutor has the discretion to file as misdemeanor or felony crime.
Furthermore, when special circumstances apply, such as a prior stalking conviction, it must be filed as a felony offense. The punishment for this crime include:
- Misdemeanor offense - up to one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine,
- Felony offense - up to five years in state prison and a $1,000 fine,
- Felony interstate stalking - up to five years in a federal prison and large fines.
The determining sentencing factors include the defendant's criminal history and other crimes committed along with the stalling offense.
If someone is convicted of stalking when there is a restraining order in effect, they could be sentenced to state prison for two to four years. In some cases, a defendant may even be required to register as a sex offender.
Stalking Restraining Orders and Protective Orders
A victim of stalking can pursue an order of protection against an alleged stalker, depending of the circumstances.
A victim of spousal abuse could obtain a emergency protection order issued by the court, which could include a domestic violence temporary restraining order or a criminal protective order.
These orders will typically order the alleged stalker not to come within 100 yards of the victims home, work, or school.
They also prohibit direct or indirect contact with the victim, including efforts to annoy, harass, stalk or disturb the peace of the victim. A violation of these orders could result in a contempt of court under California Penal Code Section 166.
See our blog: Trespassing Laws in California.
Stalking Legal Criminal Defenses
While stalking charges are considered a serious offense in Los Angeles, the accusation made by the alleged victim are often false or made as an act of revenge or other motives. We have learned through experience that claims of stalking are highly exaggerated or simply untrue.
In some cases, the accused was first to be contacted, responding to what they believed was an attempt to reconcile their relationship.
In other cases, many stalking claims were motived by jealousy or spite in an effort to get the individual arrested.
Often, these type of situations arise during a divorce process or a relationship breakup. If threat accusations are made, we may be able to prove they were not credible threats.
Call a Los Angeles Stalking Defense Attorney
Regardless of the specific circumstances leading to stalking charges, your best course of action is to call the criminal defense lawyers at Eisner Gorin LLP at (877) 781-1570.
Our law firm will thoroughly review all the details and begin investigating and constructing an effective defense strategy on your behalf.
Contact our attorneys for a free immediate response.