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.
If you would like to know more about stalking laws in California, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com.