What You Need to Know about Stalking in California
Millions of people are stalked every year. At best, the person being stalked is annoyed. At worst, they can become the victim of violence and even be killed. Stalking is taken seriously in the state of California. As such, it’s important to understand what stalking is and what the ramifications of it are.
The Legal Definition
To start, we need to first understand how stalking is defined by the state of California. California Penal Code 646.9 (a) says that “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.” Key factors here are the intent, causing fear for the safety of one’s self or family, the repeated nature of the behavior, and the creation of a credible threat. There’s also the matter of whether or not the alleged stalker was engaging in a constitutionally protected activity.
It’s a Wobbler Offense
Stalking is one of California’s wobbler offenses, so it can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony. Which one the alleged stalker is charged with will depend on the person’s prior criminal history and the details surrounding the case. Being convicted of stalking as a misdemeanor can result in up to a year in a county jail or summary probation. Being convicted of stalking as a felony is punishable by up to five years in a state prison or formal probation. Both can result in a fine of up to $1,000. If the offender has been convicted of stalking on a previous occasion or if the stalking violates a court order it will automatically be charged as a felony.
Time served and money paid isn’t the only possible consequence of a stalking conviction. If a felony stalking is elevated to an aggravated felony it can cause the offender to be deported and considered inadmissible to the country in the future. Being convicted of felony stalking can also result in gun rights being revoked.
Stalking is a serious crime that can have serious consequences both for the person being stalked and the stalker themselves. If you’ve been charged with stalking, you need to have an experienced attorney on your side. You need to start building up your defense so you can get the best results possible for your case.
Have you been charged with stalking? Read this to learn what to do next: Charged with Stalking? Do These 3 Things Now!
Bradley Corbett is a criminal defense attorney in San Diego. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo Utah in 2004. Later he enrolled at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where he participated in a prestigious internship program with the Los Angeles County Public Defender. Since then he has handled over 2,000 cases.