DC Stalking Laws
In DC, as in many other jurisdictions, stalking is a crime which involves a course of conduct or a pattern of behavior. Thus, it is not typically triggered for isolated incidents. Nonetheless, the following overview is not a substitute for the experience of a DC criminal defense attorney who has handled stalking cases. If you have any questions, such as how the law described below applies to your case, you can contact a DC stalking attorney by calling (202) 529-9374.
Stalking Section 22-3133
An individual is guilty of stalking if the individual deliberately acts in a manner that is directed at a specific person, and:
(1) The intent of the course of conduct is to cause that person to
(a) Suffer emotional distress, or;
(b) Fear for the person’s own safety or that of another person, or;
(c) Become very alarmed, frightened, or disturbed;
(2) While the individual knows that his/her course of conduct would cause the targeted person to reasonably feel (a) through (c) described above (i.e. the targeted person would actually be afraid of the individual), or;
(3) While the individual should have known his/her course of conduct would make a reasonable person feel (a) through (c) described (i.e. any objective, reasonable person faced with the same conduct would be fearful of the individual).
A course of conduct is not easy to define. Rather, a totality of circumstances must contribute across more than one action to constitute an evident pattern. Evidence that portrays one’s actions as being caused by reasonable factors (like employment) may help contest the prosecution’s claim that one engaged in a course of conduct. In addition, stalking requires intent to make someone else feel distressed, alarmed, or fearful, or that the individual knew or should have known that the targeted person would feel that way.
The penalty for stalking is up to $2,500 in fines and/or up to one year in jail.
The penalty for stalking is a fine of up to $12,500 and/or up to five years in prison IF:
- The accused individual was prohibited from contacting the victim by a court order, parole order, or supervised release order, or;
- The accused individual already had a prior conviction for stalking, in any jurisdiction, within the last 10 years (it does not matter who the individual was convicted of stalking), or;
- The accused individual was stalking someone under 18 years old and the accused individual is at least four years older than the victim.
- The accused individual was the cause of at least $2,500 in financial injury.
The penalty for stalking is a fine up to $25,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison IF the accused individual has at least two prior convictions for stalking. Again, this includes convictions in any jurisdiction and it does not matter who the individual was convicted of stalking.
How a DC Stalking Lawyer Can Help
The consequences for stalking charges in DC can have a negative impact on your life, even aside from the fines and jail time someone charged with stalking will be facing. Protective orders may be more that a mere inconvenience, making it very difficult or impossible for you to continue with your employment or schooling.