Stalking accusations are taken very seriously in California. Every single person connected to the state’s judicial system understands that stalking often escalates into more serious crimes, which is why they will quickly launch an investigation when someone accuses you of stalking them.
Whether you actually are stalking them or it’s an accusation that has been made in an attempt to get you into legal trouble, it’s in your best interest to start preparing yourself for what the future could hold if the police find enough evidence to justify filing stalking charges against you.
Stalking is dealt with in California’s Penal Code 646.9 PC. Reading through the law is the best way to fully understand what the state does and doesn’t consider stalking. The law reads:
“Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking…”
While stalking is taken very seriously by the entire California legal system, it is also one of the state’s wobbler offenses, meaning that you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Things like your criminal history, if any threats were made, how long the stalking took place, how intense the stalking incidents were are taken into consideration when a judge decides if you should be charged with misdemeanor or felony stalking.
If you are charged with misdemeanor stalking in California, you shouldn’t assume that you’ll get off lightly. If convicted, the judge could sentence you to a full year in a county jail and/or fine you $1,000. It’s also possible that you’ll be required to take some education courses such as anger management and substance abuse recovery.
The sentence for felony stalking in California is a three-year span in one of California’s state prisons and a fine that could be as much as $10,000.
It’s important to note that stalking is one of California’s Three Strikes crimes, meaning that the third time you’re convicted of felony stalking will result in a minimum sentence of 25 years in a state prison.