A threat must be credible in order for a stalking charge to stand.
Stalking has been a hot topic in the news, with this crime getting increased attention as a serious crime. California has one of the nation’s toughest stalking laws, making it a crime to follow, harass or threaten someone to the point that he or she fears for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family. It can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of the case and the criminal history of the person charged.
Undoubtedly, stalking can be a terrifying crime. Pop culture portrays stalking in a truly awful way — but what happens when a charge of stalking is based on false allegations? Or if the person making the accusation is overly sensitive, and reading a friendly overture incorrectly? In this situation, a skilled California criminal defense lawyer can help defend you against unjust stalking charges and protect your rights and freedom.
Under California law, there are three elements to a stalking charge. To be convicted of the crime of stalking, you must:
- Willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follow or harass another person, and
- Make a credible threat against that person,
- With the specific intent of placing him or her in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or in fear for the safety of his or her immediate safety.
Importantly, all three elements of the crime must be present in order to be convicted of this crime. The prosecution has to prove that the you followed or harassed the other person on purpose, with the intent to anger or disturb them, and did it multiple times. The prosecutor must also show that you made a legitimate threat — that is, one that you had the ability to carry out, even if you do have the intent to do so.
Stalking can come in many forms, from sending unwanted gifts to following a person to driving by someone’s house to repeatedly contacting them online. It can be done by a stranger or someone known to the alleged victim. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
However, just because stalking has been charged does not mean that you will be convicted of the offense. A skilled California criminal defense attorney can utilize the elements of the stalking law to put together factual and legal defenses to the charge. For example, he could claim that the threat wasn’t credible because it simply was not possible, or that you were not willfully or maliciously following or harassing the alleged victim. Alternatively, your attorney could argue that the allegations against you are false, and that there is another reason that the person is making the accusation, such as to gain control in a custody battle or to get back at you for a bad break-up.
At the Chambers Law Firm, our attorneys are highly skilled at representing clients charged with stalking and related offenses. We aggressively negotiate with prosecutors to reach favorable plea deals, and when necessary, we take cases to trial to force them to meet their burden of proof. We will stand by your side throughout the process. Contact us today at 714-760-4088 or email@example.com to schedule your free initial consultation.