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California Penal Code Section 646.9 Stalking

Penal Code 646.9 Stalking

According to California Penal Code section 646.9 stalking; a defendant is guilty of the crime of stalking if he intentionally, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his safety or the safety of his immediate family.

Prosecutor Must Establish the Following to Convict Defendant of Penal Code 646.9 Stalking

Prosecutor must establish the following elements in order to successfully convict a defendant of stalking under Penal Code 646.9

  • Defendant intentionally, maliciously and repeatedly harassed or followed another person;
  • Defendant made a credible threat to that person’s safety ; and
  • Defendant did so with intention to place another person in a reasonable fear for his safety or for the safety of his immediate family

Stalking Penal Code 646.9: Credible Threat

Credible threat is the one that makes a target person to reasonably fear for his safety or for the safety of a family member. Credible threat can be made in writing, verbally, electronically or in any other way that communicates the threat to a target person.  It does not matter whether person actually had intention to carry out the threat or not, it is only important that he was able to carry out the threat.

Stalking Penal Code 646.9: Harassing

Harassing means willfully engaging in a course of conduct directed at an exact person that seriously alarms, annoys, terrorizes or torments the person with no legitimate purpose.  A course of conduct means continuing acts occurring over a certain period of time.

What is a Malicious Act?

Malicious act is a wrongful act done with the intention of annoying injuring, or disturbing another person in an illegal way.

Common Examples of Stalking Under California Penal Code 646.9

Here are some common examples of stalking under California Penal Code 646.9 include

  • Repeatedly making harassing phone calls to another person
  • Repeatedly showing up at a another person’s business or home
  • Repeatedly following another person 
  • Repeatedly sending messages, notes or objects to another person
  • Vandalizing another person’s property

Stalking Against an Intimate Partner: California Domestic Violence Laws

In situations where the stalking acts are committed against an intimate partner the crime will be addressed under California domestic violence laws. A victim of stalking in California can file a domestic violence TRO against the defendant. This factor can lead to harsher punishment and penalties.  An intimate partner can include:

  • A fiancé
  • A current or former spouse
  • A current or former cohabitating partner
  • Child’s parent 
  • A person you are or were dating

Penalties for Violating California Penal Code Section 646.9

According to PC 646.9 stalking is considered a wobbler and can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or a felony crime, depending on the defendant’s criminal history and specific facts of the case.  Though there are some situations when the crime of stalking will be automatically charged as a felony:

  • The crime was committed in violation of an existing court protective order
  • The defendant had been previously convicted of Penal Code  Section 646.9 stalking

Penalties for Misdemeanor Stalking Penal Code 646.9 Conviction

Penalties for a misdemeanor stalking conviction under Penal Code 646.9 include the following

  • Up to one year in a county jail
  • A fine up to $1,000
  • Probation
  • Mandatory counseling or commitment to a hospital that can treat defendant for mental illness
  • Restraining order that prohibits any contact with the victim

Penalties for Felony Stalking Penal Code 646.9 Conviction

Penalties for a felony stalking conviction under Penal Code 646.9 include the following:

  • Sixteen months to five years in California State Prison
  • A fine up to$1,000 
  • Formal probation
  • Mandatory counseling or commitment to a hospital that can treat defendant for mental illness
  • Restraining order  that prohibits any contact with the victim
  • Registration as a California sex offender under PC Section 290

Aggravating Factors in California Criminal Stalking Cases

In case the circumstances of the crime meet certain aggravating factors the prison sentence may be increased. Here are some common aggravating factors:

  • Great bodily harm

In case the defendant caused great bodily harm to the victim he can be sentences to additional and consecutive 3 to 5 years in state prison.

  • Weapon Enhancement 

In case at the time of committing a crime the defendant was carrying a weapon he can be sentenced to additional and consecutive 1 to 3 years in state prison.

California Criminal Stalking Defense Lawyer

For answers to any other questions you may still have about California Penal Code 646.9 charges or to discuss your case confidentially with our team of experienced California stalking defense lawyers give us a call at (310) 943-1171. Our lawyers in Glendale, Los Angeles County, CA, are highly dedicated to serving the needs of our clients.

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