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January Is National Stalking Awareness Month

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | Jan 02, 2024 | 0 Comments

January is National Stalking Awareness Month. California was the first state to pass an anti-stalking law in 1990. Now, all states have anti-stalking laws that are intended to protect victims of harassment and criminal threats. 

Unfortunately, the term can be thrown around carelessly and be used to refer to activities that aren't against the law. Making a false accusation of stalking can ruin someone's life. It can even put someone at risk of getting a criminal record for a crime they didn't commit. 

If you have been accused of criminal stalking in Oakland or the East Bay, talk to an experienced California criminal defense attorney to find out your legal options. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

What Is Illegal Stalking in California?

According to the Justice Department, "The first anti-stalking law was passed in 1990 in California. Since then, all 50 states have enacted anti-stalking laws. The US Congress enacted the first Federal stalking law in 1996."

Under California Penal Code PC §646.9, stalking involves willful, malicious, and repeated following or harassing another person and making a credible threat with the intent to place another in reasonable fear for safety or the safety of their immediate family.

To convict someone of stalking, the prosecutor has to prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of stalking include:

  1. Willful and malicious;

  2. Harassment or repeatedly following another person; and

  3. The defendant made a credible threat with the intent to place in reasonable fear for their safety or for the safety of their immediate family.

In California, criminal stalking can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. As a misdemeanor, the penalties can include a fine and up to a year in jail. As a felony, the criminal penalties can include up to 4 years in prison. A second conviction is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. 

In addition to jail time and fines, penalties can also include probation, psychological counseling, and community service. You can also be subject to a criminal protection order, with additional penalties for violating a restraining order. 

Stalking Statistics in California

According to the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, & Resource Center (SPARC), one in three women and one in six men in the U.S. are impacted by stalking. Stalkers are often people with whom the victim has dated or been romantically involved. However, stalkers can also be acquaintances, family members, or strangers. Examples of stalker behavior include:

  • Unwanted contact

  • Sending unwanted gifts

  • Following or tracking

  • Showing up at work, school, or home

  • Damaging property

  • Harassing friends or co-workers

  • Threatening harm to friends, family, or pets

Stalking Accusations Should Be Taken Seriously

The term "stalking" can be misused and refers to things that are not illegal or harmful. Misusing the term can be dangerous and careless. If someone casually accuses someone of harassment or stalking, it can cause serious harm to their reputation. A friend or family member may even misunderstand the accusation and report the innocent person to the police. This can lead to an arrest and criminal charges. 

Criminal Defense Attorney in Oakland and the East Bay

If you are arrested for stalking or online harassment in Oakland, call an experienced criminal defense attorney for help. East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 40 years of California criminal defense experience and understands the consequences of a criminal conviction. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for over 38 years. She is the Attorney Lynn Gorelick is the Immediate Past President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and a Faculty and Sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense. Lynn is a Specialist Member of the California DUI Lawyers Association and lectures frequently to other attorneys regarding DUI and DMV issues.


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