Articles Posted in Stalking

A 24-year-old man was sentenced to 4 years in prison and 15 years probation after being found guilty of cyberstalking a fellow student at the University of Central Florida. As an Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, it has been my experience that the Orange County Courts are extremely aggressive when it comes to this type of crime.

Cyberstalking is a relatively new crime, which is occurring more often due to the increased sophistication of electronic communication. Law enforcement agencies have actually developed special “task forces” to investigate and handle these matters as more incidents are being reported. In 1998, the California legislature amended it’s stalking laws to include electronically communicated threats. Basically, cyberstalking is stalking by the use of an electronic communication device. California stalking laws prohibit harassing and/or threatening someone to the point that they fear for their safety or the safety of a family member. If the threat or harassment is communicated through email, text, phone, Internet, video, fax or any other electronic device, it is referred to as cyberstalking.

Regardless of how severe the circumstances, the Orange County District Attorney prosecutes stalking cases aggressively. Here are some examples of cyberstalking, some of which may come as a bit of a surprise to some people:

Unwanted/unsolicited threatening or harassing emails;
Unwanted and/or disturbing pages, instant messages, text or sext messages I (“sexts” or “sexting” refers to sending explicit photos or messages, cell phone to cell phone);
Posing as another person in a chat room and writing things on behalf of that individual that are intended to anger other chat room participants;
Posting embarrassing, or humiliating information about the alleged victim;
Posting personal information (including a phone number, address, workplace, etc) about another person, encouraging others to harass that person.

Logging into on-line accounts to empty a person’s bank account or ruin that person’s credit.

In order to be convicted of cyberstalking, the prosecution must prove the same elements as in the traditional California anti-stalking laws, only the credible threat must have been made electronically. The following are the elements that must be proven:

Maliciously or willfully harassed or threatened another person
Made a credible threat against that person;
Placing that person in reasonable fear for them self or their family;
The threat or harassment was communicated by the Internet or other electronic device.

If convicted of cyberstalking, the sentence can range a great deal. Cyberstalking is a “wobbler” meaning that the prosecution can file the case as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the facts of the incident and the criminal history of the accused.

If convicted of misdemeanor cyberstalking, the sentence may include: up to a year in a county jail and fines of up to $1,000.00.

A felony conviction for cyberstalking may include up to five years in the California State Prison, fines of up to $1,000.00 and possible lifetime registration as a sex offender under Penal Code 290.

There are defenses to this serious charge that an experienced criminal defense attorney will be familiar with and know the best way to present you and your defense to the prosecution. If only one element of the crime that the prosecution must prove is unfounded, the case must be dismissed. In other words, the prosecution must prove all of the elements in order to get a conviction.

Continue reading →

A 31-year-old Laguna Hills man was recently arrested on suspicion of stalking his wife, which was in violation of a restraining order, which she had filed against him. Orange County Sheriff’s detectives said that the man’s wife reported that her husband was following her in her car and had attempted to hit her car.

California stalking laws, are defined in Penal Code 646.9. Stalking is harassing or threatening another person to the point where that individual fears for his/her safety or the safety of his/her family.

Stalking is considered a very serious offense in California. However, many times stalking charges are based on false misrepresentations and often times are motivated by revenge. A good, experienced Orange County California Criminal Defense Lawyer will have the skills to reveal the motives behind the accusations in an effort to have the case dismissed. Or, at the very least, have the charges reduced.

In order to be found guilty of stalking under PC 646.9, the prosecution must prove three facts or elements: (1) that you willfully, maliciously and repeatedly followed and that you willfully and maliciously harassed another person. (2) That you made a credible threat against that person, and (3) That you did so with the specific intent to place that individual in reasonable fear of his or her safety or that of a his/her immediate family.

Stalking is a “wobbler”, which means that it can either be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the specific facts of the case and your criminal history. Stalking a person in violation of a protective order or stalking a person after having been previously convicted of stalking are felonies. Otherwise, the prosecution has the discretion to file the case as a misdemeanor or felony.

Misdemeanor stalking penalties include informal probation, up to one year in a county jail, a maximum $1,000.00 fine, counseling, and/or possible confinement in a state-run hospital that treats mental illness, and a restraining order prohibiting any contact with the alleged victim.

Felony stalking penalties include formal probation, sixteen months to five years in a California State Prison, a maximum $1,000.00 fine, counseling and/or possible confinement in a state-run hospital that treats mental illness, a restraining order prohibiting any contact with the alleged victim, and possible lifetime registration as a sex offender under Penal Code 290 PC.

Fortunately, there are defenses that a skilled criminal defense attorney can present on your behalf. Anyone being accused of a crime in Orange County, California, should seek the advise of an attorney who is familiar with all the Courts in Orange County. An attorney who has a good working relationship with the individual Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and Probation Department, as well as the Court staff, will be better able to get your charges reduced and/or dismissed. An attorney familiar with the Courts in which a case is pending will result in the best possible outcome available.

Continue reading →

Chidi Benjamin Uzomah, Jr. was charged today with stalking radio personality, Ryan Seacrest. Last month, Uzomah attacked Seacrest’s bodyguard in an attempt to get inside the car with Seacrest. Uzomah had a knife at the time of the assault. After that incident, Seacrest obtained a temporary restraining order against Uzomah. Last week, Uzomah tried to find Seacrest at his workplace in the E! building on Wilshire. Doing this was a violation of the restraining order. A few weeks prior to that, he tried to find Seacrest at the radio station where Seacrest also works. Since Uzomah had violated his court order twice, he was arrested and has been charged with one felony count of stalking and two misdemeanor counts of violating a court order.

Often celebrity’s are stalked by obsessed fans that want to meet these stars.Stalking is the act of following someone repeatedly and making threats to that person’s safety. Punishments range from probation to prison time. Stalking is a serious crime because it often leads to physical violence or even death. Whether you live in Westminster, Lake Forest or Brea, if you are charged with stalking, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.

Continue reading →

Zachory Loring, 24, is prohibited from going within 100 yards of Audrina Patridge. Patridge is best known for her role on the reality show “The Hills” as well as being on magazines and in commercials. Last month, Loring went to Patridge’s house and declared that he was a fan. He gave her poems and notes that he wrote for her and handed her a drawing that had a woman being strangled. On two other occasions, Loring was found loitering on her property. Eventually, Patridge got scared and called police to escort him away from the property. This week, she received a temporary restraining order against him and will go back to court for a permanent order, because she believes she is being stalked by Loring.

Stalking is the act of repeatedly following someone and making threats against that person. In this case, Loring waited by Patridge’s house for her several times and once gave her a drawing that she felt was a threat against her. If Loring is charged with stalking, he may face prison time. Whether you live in Orange, Brea or Laguna Niguel, if you are charged with stalking, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

Continue reading →