Stalking and Domestic Violence

Stalking an estranged partner is also a form of domestic violence. Stalking includes:

• Turning up at the person’s workplace or home

• Shadowing or following

• Vandalizing property

• Repeated phone calls or other harassing or threatening behavior

• Doing something that would make a person fear about his or her safety

The stalking law varies from one state to another. In some states there must be a minimum of two acts or evidence that the act was not an act in isolation. In other states there must be an imminent threat of harm. In a few states stalking includes surveillance, lying in wait and non-consensual communication.

The National Institute of Justice in 1998 conducted a research on stalking and state codes. In its research, the Institute defined stalking as

A course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear,” with “repeated” meaning on two or more occasions.

Stalking is of three types:

• It is generally committed by women. The stalker has a delusional obsession with someone who is out of the stalker’s reach like a public figure.

•The stalker stalks a person thinking they are in love with that person.

• The stalker stalks a known person.

Stalking for domestic violence purposes is simple obsession stalking. The stalker is generally an existing or ex-spouse, lover, partner, co-worker or employer.

Stalking Laws

In 1990, California became the first state in the United States to enact an anti-stalking law to reduce the horrendous personal and societal costs associated with the crime. Now all the U.S. states have such anti-stalking laws.

In Washington DC there must be two or more incidents to constitute stalking. The incidents must be of maliciously, willfully and repeatedly harassing or following the victim or doing such acts so as to make the victim fear for his or her safety. The penalties for stalking in Washington DC include fine and imprisonment.

First Offense: Fine up to $500 and/or imprisonment up to 1 year.

Second Offense (within 2 years): Fine up to $750 and/or imprisonment up to 1 and 1/2 years.

Third Offense: Fine up to $1500 and/or imprisonment up to 3 years.

In Tennessee stalking involves the repeated and intentional following or harassing of a person in a manner that causes him or her to fear being assaulted or suffering death or bodily injury. It is a misdemeanor offence (Class A). A second offence within 7 years will be a Class C felony.

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