Stalking and Cyberstalking
If you are accused of stalking or cyberstalking in Los Angeles, the penalties can be severe and you should contact an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who has experience in defending stalking and domestic violence cases. It is very important that you work with an attorney who understands how to handle stalking cases and will do everything possible to fight your case. A stalking conviction can lead to terrible collateral consequences including a felony conviction and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
Stalking is often charged in situations between people who were formerly married or in dating relationships. Breakups and rejection can be difficult for anyone and often someone accused of stalking believes they were receiving “mixed signals” from the alleged victim. In these cases, stalking is a form of a domestic violence charge and may be charged in addition to allegations of criminal threats and/or extortion.
Even if there was never a significant relationship between the accuser and the defendant, a stalking charge can still be filed. Prosecutors in Los Angeles now aggressively pursue cyberstalking cases. Online dating sites, text messaging, email, Facebook and other social media have made it more difficult than ever to determine whether someone is “playing hard to get” or genuinely does not want contact with a person. There are also situations where the alleged victim has their own ulterior motives in accusing someone of stalking. Often an accuser has untreated psychological issues which cause them to perceive stalking behavior from someone, even though no such behavior occurred. At the the Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg, we handle these situations aggressively. We conduct thorough investigations of the circumstances behind accusations of stalking so that we can present favorable defense evidence to the prosecutor, judge or jury.
If the person accused of stalking truly does have a problem with boundaries and difficulty understanding that the alleged victim wants no contact, then we have a wide range of resources available to get our clients the help they need. Of course, our clients must be willing to undergo the needed the treatment. But if the clients are willing, we can facilitate an appropriate course of treatment – however minimal or intensive – which may help in resolving the criminal case favorably.
The penalties for stalking and cyberstalking can be severe. The lightest punishment for stalking is a misdemeanor conviction with a maximum of one year in the county jail. Stalking can also be charged as a felony with up to three years in the state prison. However, certain prior convictions will increase the severity of a stalking conviction. For example:
- If a defendant is charged with stalking where there is a restraining order in effect prohibiting the defendant from harassing the alleged victim, the stalking charge may be filed as a felony with a state prison sentence of up to four years.
- If a defendant is charged with stalking after having been convicted of felony domestic violence under Penal Code 273.5, convicted of felony violation a protective under 273.6, or conviction of making criminal criminal threats under Penal Code 422, you could e charged with either misdemeanor or a felony the maximum state prison time is up to five years.
- If you have previously been convicted of stalking and and pick up another stalking charge, then you will be charged with a straight felony with a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.
To be guilty of stalking the prosecutor must prove:
- A defendant, willfully and maliciously, harassed or repeatedly followed another person, and
- The defendant made a credible threat with the intent of placing the other person in reasonable fear for his/her safety or the safety of his/her immediate family.
Common Questions About Stalking
Q: What does “harass” mean?
A: Harassing means engaging 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.
Q: What is a “course of conduct”?
A: A course of conduct means two or more acts occurring over a period of time, however short, demonstrating a continuous purpose.
Q: What is a “credible threat”?
A: A credible threat is one that causes the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his/her safety (or for the safety of his/her immediate family) and one that the maker of the threat appears to be able to carry out. A credible threat can be made orally, in writing, electronically, or may be implied by a pattern of conduct.
Q: What does willfully and maliciously mean?
A: This means a person purposefully and intentionally performed a wrongful act. In this case the person intended to disturb, annoy, alarm, torments, or terrorize.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Stalking is taken seriously by prosecutors in Los Angeles County and across the state of California. If you or a loved one is facing a stalking charge, contact Los Angeles stalking defense attorney Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 for a free and confidential consultation or get in touch via the secure contact form on this page. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.