In the State of California, a conviction for one of the state’s stalking laws could lead to serious penalties, including a lengthy term of incarceration. In fact, California has some of the toughest stalking laws in the country. If you have been charged with stalking in SanDiego there are several defenses that might work in your case; however, only an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney can evaluate the unique facts and circumstances of your case to determine which defenses are applicable.
California Penal Code 646.9 addresses stalking as reads, in pertinent part, as follows:
“Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously 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…”
In simple terms, the law makes it a crime to follow, harass, and/or threaten someone if your actions cause the individual to fear for his/her safety or the safety of his/her family. There is often a fine line between simply being annoying and actually stalking. Part of the problem with defining “stalking” behavior is that there is a subjective element in the definition, that being the fear the alleged victim feels. Consider the following scenarios:
- You follow a co-worker home and ask her out on a date. When she says no you follow her home the following night and promise to make her “sorry” for not going out with you.
- You send e-mails to an ex-boyfriend and mention that you know where he and his daughter are living now and that he “can’t ever get away from you”.
- You make repeated calls to your ex-girlfriend and her family telling them that you “can’t accept” that she has a new boyfriend.
Are any of those scenarios stalking? All of them? There is no easy answer to that question but each of them could be considered stalking.
The potential penalties for stalking depend on whether or not there are aggravating factors. Without aggravating factors you face up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If a restraining order was in place at the time of the stalking and/or you have a previous conviction for stalking, you face up to five years in prison.
If you have been charged with stalking in San Diego it is essential that you consult with an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney right away to determine what defenses might be available to you to prevent a conviction.