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Understanding California’s stalking laws

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Most serious criminal offenses involve acts of physical violence. However, others involve no physical contact act all, with words or behavior constituting the substance of the crime.

Stalking is perhaps the most well-known crime in this later category. The elements of stalking vary by jurisdiction, with the crime described in section 646.9(a) of the California Penal Code.

The language of the code is rather nebulous, but it contemplates any form of threat or harassment that instills a reasonable fear in the victim for the safety of themselves or their immediately family.

The threating behavior can be verbal or written, it could even be a physical presence in certain circumstances.

Examples include:

  • Sending daily text messages to an ex-partner stating, “we will be together again, whether you like it or not.”
  • Sending written letters to a co-worker that read “I will destroy you.”
  • Following someone around daily and shouting obscenities at them.

Stalking can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the nature of the crime. A felony conviction is punishable by up to five years of prison, a misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year in prison.

A serious crime requires a serious defense

Being convicted for a high-level crime has ramifications far beyond prison time. You may face serious fines, forfeit civil liberties such as gun ownership, and suffer irreparable damage to your reputation.

Thankfully, everyone is presumed innocent before proven guilty. The first step towards an acquittal is hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

An experienced lawyer can poke holes in the prosecution’s case and launch an extensive investigation to uncover the truth.

Newport Beach residents should act quickly. If cost is a concern, many lawyers offer a free initial consultation at no out-of-pocket cost to the client.