Stalkers often enter the news from time to time and are viewed primarily as out-of-control fans stalking celebrities or public figures. Yet the majority of stalkers are spouses, exes, or co-workers who have violated a restraining order in an effort to just get closure or work out the differences with the protected party. For example, a father who repeatedly and angrily goes to his ex-wife’s home against her wishes just so that he can see his children can be arrested and charged with stalking.
Under California law anyone who is convicted of stalking faces serious penalties and consequences. In addition, a charge of stalking could jeopardize your employment, your child custody agreement, and your visitation rights. Due to the severity of this crime, it is important that you retain the services of an experienced Redwood City criminal defense lawyer immediately.
California’s Stalking Laws
Stalking is addressed in California’s Penal Code 646.9 PC and is defined as the willful following, harassing, or threatening of another person with “the intent of placing that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her immediate family.
In order to obtain a conviction of stalking, the prosecution must prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant willfully and maliciously harassed or willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed another person;
- The defendant made a credible threat with the intent to place the other person in reasonable fear for (his/her) safety [or for the safety of (his/her) immediate family
If the defendant is charged with stalking in violation of a court order, Pen. Code, section 646.9(b):
- A temporary restraining order or injunction prohibiting the defendant from engaging in this conduct against the threatened person was in effect at the time of the conduct.
- Misdemeanor Stalking
- Up to 1 year in the county jail
- Fine of up to $1,000
- And more
- Felony Stalking
- Up to 5 years in the State Prison
- Fine of up to $1,000
- Sex Offender registration
- And more
In order to prove stalking, the prosecution must prove that you made a credible threat. A credible threat is one that causes the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety [or for the safety of his or her immediate family and one that the maker of the threat appears to be able to carry out. A credible threat may be made orally, in writing, or electronically or may be implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of statements and conduct.
Simply following an individual is not enough to gain a conviction of stalking.
Penalties for Stalking in California
The crime of stalking in California is a wobbler, which means that the prosecution can choose whether to pursue misdemeanor or felony stalking charges. If you are convicted of stalking, you face the following penalties and consequences:
There are several defenses your Redwood City criminal defense attorney can employ to have your stalking charges reduced or even dismissed all together. Your attorney may be able to prove that the alleged threat you made was not credible or that you did not make a threat at all. If you did not follow the victim maliciously, then your criminal defense attorney may be able to have the stalking charges against you dismissed. Another defense against the criminal charge of stalking is that the restraining order against you was not valid or was expired at the time of the stalking incident.
Redwood City Stalking Defense Lawyers
At Ahmed & Sukaram, our Redwood City criminal defense lawyers have successfully defended clients in the State of California who have been charged with stalking. If you are charged with stalking in Redwood City, San Francisco, San Jose, Palo Alto, or anywhere in the State of California, contact the dynamic legal team of Ahmed & Sukaram immediately. We are ready to fight for you-and your future. Call us today to begin fighting these serious criminal charges.