What is stalking?

California State Law

Stalking is defined by the California Penal Code Section 646.9, which provides that "any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family" is guilty of the crime of stalking. 

Federal Law

Stalking as defined in the United States Code,  Sec. 2261A. Interstate Stalking Punishment and Prevention Act, provides whoever travels across a State line or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States with the intent to injure or harass another person, and in the course of, or as a result of, such travel places that person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to, that person or a member of that person's immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking.

Characteristics of Stalking

More simply put, probably the best term to define stalking is unwanted pursuit. The act of stalking can occur between strangers, intimates, co-workers and includes many different behaviors, but all share two common features: they involve actions not wanted by the victim and they threaten or cause fear to the victim.  A person is liable for the crime of stalking when  one or more of the following elements is involved:

Unwanted letters, cards, notes, and / or gifts

Credible threats to self, family, and / or friends

Unwanted emails and pages

Unwanted telephone calls and messages on voicemails or answering machines

Inappropriate approaches and confrontations

Appearing unexpectedly at a place of work, residence, or place frequently visited

Damage to property

Following or watching from a distance

Physical and / or sexual assault



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