Important California Laws To Know – Stalking
In the latter half of the 20th Century, most, if not all, states, including California, criminalized conduct where an individual engages in a continuous, incessant pattern of conduct such as following, badgering, and annoying another person or sending them unsought and unwanted messages. More commonly referred to as “stalking,” this conduct has become much more common in California.
Stalking may be charged as a criminal offense when someone willfully, maliciously, or repeatedly follows another person, or when someone willfully and maliciously harasses another person and makes a credible threat placing that person in reasonable fear of his or her safety or the safety of a member of his or her immediate family.
The accused must willfully harass or follow another person. The definition of “harasses” means engaging in a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose. means two or more acts occurring over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of “course of conduct.”
A “credible threat” is a verbal or written threat, including that performed through the use of an electronic communication device, or a threat implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of verbal, written, or electronically communicated statements and conduct, made with the intent to place the person that is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family, and made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family.
It is not necessary to prove that the defendant had the intent to actually carry out the threat. The present incarceration of a person making the threat does not bar prosecution for a new criminal offense under § 646.9. Also, constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of “credible threat.”
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