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What constitutes stalking in California?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2022 | Domestic Violence

Stalking is a term that most of us are familiar with. Nonetheless, the offense is not necessarily easy to define. Stalking is addressed in California Penal Code 646.9.

There are several elements that must be present before a person can be charged with stalking. The offense can also take place online. The fundamental aspects of this serious criminal offense are discussed in further detail below.

Reasonable fear for a person’s safety

In order for the offense of stalking to apply, an individual must have been placed in reasonable fear for their safety. The accused must have willfully or maliciously made attempts to intimidate a person or their family members. Crucially, such behaviors must occur on more than one occasion. For instance, if a person has made repeated phone calls or left unwanted letters at a person’s dwelling that make the recipient feel unsafe, they could be arrested for stalking.


The modern world is constantly shifting towards the digital realm, and this includes the area of crime. A person can carry out stalking from a computer or other digital device. For example, if an individual sends repeated threatening emails or make a number of threats online, they could be charged with stalking. Cyberstalking is also covered in California Penal Code 636.9. As with “real life” stalking, the alleged victim must be able to show that they were placed in reasonable fear of their safety or that of their family members.

A stalking conviction can carry jail time. If you’re facing criminal charges in California, then it is essential that you reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through your options.