California Stalking Law & Defense
California Penal Code 646.9 & More
Information on the crime of Stalking is found at California Penal Code section 646.9.
A defendant is charged with stalking if the district attorney reasonably believes that the defendant did all of the following:
1. Willfully and Maliciously harassed another person repeatedly, and
2. The defendant made a credible threat with the intent to place the otter person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family.
According to PC 646.9, a credible threat is a threat that causes another person to reasonably fear for his or her safety and where the defendant appears to be able to carry out the threat.
Under PC 646.9, a credible threat may be made orally, in writing, or electronically. The threat may also be implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of statements and conduct.
Also, according to PC 646.9, to "harass" someone means to engage in a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously annoys, alarms, torments, or terrorizes the person and that serves no legitimate purpose.
The difference between the crimes of Stalking charged under PC 646.9 and the crime of Criminal Threats charged under PC 422 is that stalking is a repeated offense that is carried out over time.
The amount of time sufficient to amount to stalking a person is determined on a case by case basis; however, it is not inconceivable to be charged with stalking under PC 646.9 after only a few minutes of contact between the defendant and the alleged victim. For example, after a heated debate and argument between sports fans at a baseball game the defendant follows the victim to the victim's car while threatening to kill the victim.
Stalking charges may be filed as either a misdemeanor or as a felony. When stalking is charged as a misdemeanor it is usually because the defendant has made no credible threat towards the victim (See PC 646.9(a)). If stalking is charged as misdemeanor under PC 646.9(a), the defendant may face up to a year in jail.
When stalking charges are filed as a felony under PC 646.9 the defendant may face up to three years in prison.
Whether or not the district attorney files stalking charges under PC 646.9 as a misdemeanor or as felony depends on the facts of each case and the defendant's criminal background.
It may be possible for a criminal defense attorney to reduce a felony stalking charge to a misdemeanor stalking charge despite the district attorney's objection to the reduction in classification.
In some criminal cases where the defendant is charged with stalking under PC 646.9, the defense attorney may be able to obtain a dismissal of the charge based any number of common defenses (See Defenses to Crime). In cases where a dismissal is not possible, it may be possible to change the stalking charge to a lesser offense or to have the penalties associated with stalking charges reduced.
In addition to possible jail time, if found guilty of the crime of stalking under PC 646.9 the defendant may be ordered to pay fines and restitution, lose his or her professional license, lose his or her immigration status (for non-U.S. citizens), be ordered to attend anger management classes, be ordered to stay away from the victim, be placed on probation or parole, and other harsh penalties.
Possible defenses against a criminal charge of stalking under PC 646.9 include 1) Due Process violation, where the defendant is engaged in constitutionally protected activity; 2) Insufficient Evidence; 3) Alibi Defense; 4) Police Misconduct; 5) Suppression of Evidence; 6) Insanity Defense; 7) Statute of Limitations, and more.
If you have been charged with the very serious offense of stalking under California penal code 646.9 you must contact a qualified criminal defense attorney without delay.
Criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado has personally and successfully handled hundreds of criminal cases, including successfully defending many defendant in serious matters through trial. In addition, Attorney Dorado has successful experience with stalking cases charged under PC 646.9. Attorney Dorado will patiently guide you through the criminal court procedures and explain the law of stalking, and your rights, to you and to your family.
Criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado is 100% dedicated to criminal defense practice and there is no charge for an initial consultation with the defendant or his or her family.
Attorney Dorado represents defendants charged with stalking under PC 646.9 in the cities of San Bernardino, Riverside, Yucaipa, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Victorville, Moreno Valley, and more.
Call today for a free consultation with criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado.