Alameda Stalking Lawyer
The state legislature enacted anti-stalking laws after a series of high-profile stalking cases involving actresses. The penalties established under these laws can be harsh and negatively impact your future. If you are facing accusations of stalking, an Alameda stalking lawyer may be able to protect your rights.
Enlisting the help of a criminal defense attorney from the beginning of your case could be the best way to fight back against these charges. Legal counsel may be able to assist you in raising any defenses that are applicable in your case.
What is Criminal Stalking?
California Penal Code § 646.9 defines stalking as occurring when individuals intentionally, maliciously, and continually follow, harass, or make credible threats to others, causing them to reasonably fear for the safety of themselves or immediate family members.
Harassment refers to any intentional and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that serves no valid purpose other than to seriously alarm or terrorize the individual. To engage in stalking, accused individuals must commit at least two acts that involve following, harassing, or threatening others. Although some time may separate the individual incidents of stalking, they must illustrate continuity of purpose to qualify as a course of conduct.
Furthermore, this statute states that a threat is credible if individuals intend to cause others to reasonably fear for the safety of themselves or their family. They also must have the apparent ability to carry out their threats, even if they do not intend to. Individuals can communicate threats verbally, in writing, via electronic communications systems, or through a course of conduct. A stalking lawyer in Alameda may be able to evaluate whether particular behavior qualifies as stalking.
Penalties for Alameda Stalking Offenses
Stalking can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, and a misdemeanor conviction can result in a jail term of up to one year, a $1,000 fine, or both. Other potential penalties for a stalking conviction can include participation in mandatory counseling and a term of summary probation. The court can also impose a restraining order to protect the target of the stalking for up to ten years.
A stalking charge may become a felony if individuals have a previous stalking conviction or if they have violated a restraining order or other court order. For a felony stalking conviction, individuals may face between two and five years of incarceration, among other penalties. In some cases, judges may order individuals convicted of stalking to register as sex offenders.
Furthermore, individuals accused of stalking may face civil liability from their accusers. They can seek damages if they can prove the defendant engaged in stalking while making credible threats or violating a restraining order and caused the plaintiff to reasonably fear for the safety of themselves and their family. As individuals can face both criminal and civil liability for accusations of stalking, they may be wise to consult an attorney in Alameda.
Look to an Alameda Stalking Attorney for Guidance
The consequences of a stalking conviction can go far beyond a term of incarceration and mandated counseling. A stalking conviction could hinder your ability to secure employment, housing, and custody or visitation with your children. If the conviction is a felony, you may also lose some of your civil rights, such as the right to possess firearms.
Defenses may be available in stalking cases, but you may need the advice of an Alameda stalking lawyer to raise those defenses properly. A robust legal advocate may be able to help you build an active defense against the allegations you are facing. Schedule a consultation right away.