Los Angeles Stalking and Harassment Defense Attorneys
Advocating for Your Freedom
A conviction for stalking and harassment can leave a lasting impression on a person’s reputation, relationships, and future. These two charges are paired together under Penal Code § 646.9 and come with severe penalties, including restraining orders. Stalking is often paired with other violent crimes and results in long prison sentences.
If you or someone you love has been charged with stalking or harassment, then you need the skill of Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP. Our Los Angeles stalking and harassment defense attorneys have spent decades defending clients in high-profile and complex criminal cases. We know the law inside and out, which allows us to develop creative and effective defense strategies. Do not let an intimidating prosecutor pressure you into a plea deal. Call us at (213) 688-0460 and learn how we can defend you in a free consultation.
California’s Laws on Stalking and Harassment
Under Penal Code § 646.9, stalking is defined as:
- Willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following or willfully and maliciously harassing another person;
- Making a credible threat against another person;
- To cause the victim fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family.
Based on California state law, a defendant can face stalking charges for:
- Repeatedly calling, texting, emailing, or direct messaging another person in a threatening manner.
- Following another person to work or to their home and threatening to injure, sexually assault, or kill that person.
- Sending unwanted gifts to another person that alarm or annoy him or her.
- Intentionally showing up at the victim’s work, home, or family home without a justifiable reason.
Stalking and harassment are often filed alongside domestic violence, sexual assault, criminal threats, and battery charges, all of which can impact the consequences of a conviction. It can also be considered a type of cybercrime if the offense took place online, such as through social media, as stalking/harassment applies to electronic communications.
Stalking can also be considered a federal crime under the Violence Against Women Act: it is a federal felony to stalk or harass someone across state lines, as well as on military bases and reservations. While this crime is generally handled by state prosecutors, federal prosecutors may exercise jurisdiction in serious cases.
Elements of a Stalking Charge
To convict you for stalking, a prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Repeated Following: A stalking charge only applies when a defendant has followed a victim on more than one occasion. There is no set distance or amount of time that a defendant has to follow another person for it to be considered a crime, and the prosecution will often focus on how repeat behavior made the victim feel distress. But taking the same bus route, for example, cannot justify a stalking charge unless this action was committed in conjunction with other actions that made the victim fear for their safety (such as harassing statements and threats).
- Harassment: California treats harassment as an element of a stalking charge that applies when a defendant knowingly and willfully “alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes” another person for no legitimate purpose. Harassing another person in conjunction with threatening their safety or well-being can result in a stalking charge, even if the defendant did not follow the victim. Harassment can include sending messages to the victim.
- Credible Threat: It is not enough for a defendant to make a threat, as it may be argued that the threat was made as a jest or for exaggeration. For a threat to be considered criminal behavior, the prosecution must show that it was possible for the defendant to carry out the threat.
- Fear: Whether a charge involves following or harassment, the prosecution must show that the victim justifiably feared for their safety or the safety of their family. The prosecution may cite statements made by the defendant, the defendant’s online activities and browser history, or witness testimony to show that the defendant acted maliciously.
Penalties for Stalking
Stalking is treated as a wobbler in California, meaning defendants can face either misdemeanor or felony penalties. Factors that determine if a charge is a felony include the defendant’s criminal history, the nature of the current charges, and if the victim had a restraining order.
As a misdemeanor, stalking can result in:
- Up to one year in county jail;
- A fine of up to $1,000;
- Restraining order; and/or
- Summary probation
If stalking is charged as a felony, then the defendant can face:
- Up to two, three, or five years in state prison;
- A fine of up to $10,000;
- A strike under California’s Three Strikes Law
- Restraining order; and/or
- Felony probation.
It is also possible for the judge to require the defendant to register as a sex offender in certain cases.
Defenses for Stalking and Harassment
At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we have decades of experience defending clients in complex criminal cases. We know how to defend our clients’ futures and reputations following a stalking charge. If you bring your case to us, we will use our expertise to craft a detailed defense strategy which may include:
- You were falsely accused.
- You did not repeatedly follow the victim.
- You did not make a credible threat.
- Your statements were protected by the First Amendment.
- The victim did not justifiable fear for their safety.
- It is a case of mistaken identity.
If you or someone you love was charged with stalking or harassment in Los Angeles, contact us immediately. Our Los Angeles criminal defense team understands how damaging these charges can be to your reputation and your future. We have experience defending clients in stalking cases, including in Title IX investigations, and have achieved many successful results. Look no further than Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP when preparing your defense. Call us today at (213) 688-0460 to get started with a free, confidential consultation.
Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP Today
Phone: (213) 688-0460
Fax: (213) 624-1942
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.