Misunderstanding Stalking Laws in California: What You Need to Know

Misunderstanding Stalking Laws in California: What You Need to Know

Stalking is a serious criminal offense in California and across the United States. However, many people do not realize that their behavior can be classified as stalking or that their actions could make someone feel harassed.

At Simmons Wagner, LLP, we offer comprehensive assistance to clients accused of stalking, domestic violence, and other intimate partner crimes. Here’s what you need to know about stalking laws in California and how to protect yourself.

Understanding the Definition of Stalking

Stalking involves repeatedly harassing or following someone with the intent to scare, frighten, intimidate, or torment them. While stalking is not considered a violent crime, it carries a significant stigma similar to that of violent offenses. Due to this stigma and the severe legal consequences, it is crucial to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can provide the best defense options.

Cyberstalking: A Modern Complication

In the past, stalking typically required physical proximity to the victim. However, in today’s digital age, a person can be accused of stalking without ever leaving their home. Cyberstalking involves using email, social media, texting, and other digital means to harass someone. This form of stalking comes with its own set of legal complications and punishments.

Following Alone Does Not Constitute Stalking

While following someone can be part of a stalking charge, it is not enough for a conviction on its own. The prosecution must prove that the alleged victim’s fear for their safety was reasonable. This determination of reasonableness is made by a judge or jury. A person can feel afraid, but unless that fear is deemed reasonable, it does not necessarily constitute stalking.

Examples of Potential Stalking Offenses

Stalking can take many forms, and some actions that might seem harmless can be classified as stalking under the law. Examples include:

  • Persistent Emails: Sending repeated emails to someone in an attempt to coerce them into doing something.
  • Posting Personal Information: Regularly posting photos or messages that include another person’s private data, even if the victim never sees it.
  • Physical Surveillance: Sitting outside someone’s house, following them home from work, or making threats of violence.
  • Voicemail Messages: Leaving numerous messages on someone’s voicemail.

Defending Against Stalking Charges

The best defense against stalking charges depends on the specifics of your case. Some possible defense strategies include:

  • Misunderstanding the Situation: Arguing that your actions were misunderstood and that you did not intend to cause fear or harassment.
  • Lack of Evidence: Demonstrating that you did not commit the actions you are accused of.
  • Unreasonable Fear: Showing that the alleged victim’s fear was not reasonable under the circumstances.

Seek Professional Legal Help

If you are facing stalking charges, it is essential to speak with a criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and build a strong defense. At Simmons Wagner, LLP, we provide comprehensive legal assistance to those accused of stalking. Contact us at (949) 439-5857 for a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you.

Stalking laws in California can be complex and easily misunderstood. By understanding these laws and seeking professional legal advice, you can better protect your rights and defend against any charges you may face. Reach out to Simmons Wagner, LLP today to get started on your defense.