Under Washington law, stalking is a course of conduct involving intentional, repeated, and continuing harassment of another person that would cause another reasonable person to feel “frightened, intimidated, or harassed,” and that causes the victim to feel the above because of that conduct.
As with most laws, the legal and standard definitions of words can differ substantially. The Revised Code of Washington defines various words and phrases as they apply to its interpretation of stalking.
“Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct involving a series of acts over a time, however short that time may be.
“Harasses” means to seriously alarm, annoy, or have a detrimental impact on the person, with no legitimate or lawful purpose for the actions.
“Follows” means to purposefully maintain proximity to the other person, either visually or physically. Washington law defines locations where this physical or visual following that is prohibited by law occurs, which can include the victim’s:
- Place of employment
Emotional distress is mental suffering that may or may not require medical or other treatment or counseling resulting from a specific event or course of conduct.
Washington Stalking Attorneys
If you have been arrested for stalking in Washington, contact Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. A conviction for stalking is serious, and could cost you your freedom. Unfortunately, your career and reputation could also be ruined. At Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson, our attorneys can utilize their experience and strong record of success to secure positive results for you.
Call (206) 712-2756 to secure an initial consultation with Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson today. Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson serves clients in Washington including King County and Snohomish County.
Felony stalking relies on the same base definition of stalking as above. However, stalking becomes a more serious offense when certain actions or violations occur in association with the stalking. If those factors or violations are present, the charge is a class B felony which may result in additional consequences and penalties.
Felony stalking charges are punished more harshly because they often involve more severe conduct than misdemeanor stalking. The rationale behind Washington law is to punish and discourage such conduct. A stalking charge becomes felony stalking if one or more of the following apply:
- Any of the conduct violated an existing restraining order protecting the victim
- The stalker has been convicted of the crime of harassment of the same victim or a family member of that person, or a previous stalking offense against anyone
- The stalker was armed with a deadly weapon while the stalking actions occurred
- When the stalking is done in retaliation for acts the victim performed during the course of official duties, if the stalker’s victim is a:
- Law enforcement officer
- Judge, juror, or attorney
- Legislator or victim advocate
- Court employee or correctional agency employee
In terms of the history of the law, cyberstalking is a relatively new offense. With the innovation and improvement in electronic devices, more opportunities to stalk via electronic means have appeared. Due to increasing technologies and the wide array of applications these communications have, cyberstalking is defined broadly.
Under Washington law, cyberstalking is defined somewhat differently than under other state laws. It is a criminal offense to knowingly and without consent install or monitor an electronic tracking device with the intent to track the location of the victim. There are situations where the placement or use of an electronic tracking device is not forbidden, including cases where it is done by:
- Law enforcement, judicial, probation, or parole officers, when engaged in the lawful performance of official duties
- As authorized by an order of state or federal court
- A legal guardian for a disabled adult
- A parent or legal guardian of a minor, so long as there is no protective order in place that orders that parent or guardian not to harass, follow, or contact the minor
- An employer, school, or other organization, when the tracking equipment is installed on a device supplied by that organization and its use is limited to recovering lost or stolen items
Penalties for Stalking
Depending on the severity of the offense, the penalties you may face for a stalking charge in Washington will vary. However, depending on the type of offense and the person you commit them against, you may face additional charges and even more severe penalties.
Generally, you may be charged with a gross misdemeanor or felony stalking, depending on the circumstances of the case. In Washington, a misdemeanor is an offense with penalties of less than a year of imprisonment, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
You may also face a felony, depending on the presence of certain factors associated with your offense. A felony charge involves penalties of up to five years of imprisonment and may include fines of up to $10,000.
Depending on the circumstances, if you are charged with stalking in Washington, you may be subject to misdemeanor or felony penalties as described above. However, the court may impose penalties not involving jail time or fines. The court may order up to five years of probation with conditions including:
- Abstaining from contacting the individual
- Refraining from further stalking that person
- Undergoing a mental health evaluation and counseling
Felony stalking is a class B offense in Washington. If convicted, you face up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Depending on the circumstances, the court may also impose probation conditions or other terms involving no contact with the victim.
Cyber harassment is a gross misdemeanor or class C felony offense, depending on the factors of the offense. If there are aggravating factors, you may face up to five years in prison, fines up to $10,000, or both.
Revised Code of Washington 9A.46.110 | Washington State Legislature – This Washington statute provides the definitions and penalties associated with stalking.
Revised Code of Washington 9A.90.120 | Washington State Legislature – This Washington statute provides the definitions and penalties associated with cyberstalking.
Seattle Stalking Lawyer | King County, WA
Stalking is not a charge to take lightly. If you are facing a stalking charge, or if someone has filed a complaint against you, seek the skilled legal counsel of Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson today. Attorney Shana Thompson at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson has years of experience defending clients arrested of domestic violence charges. She can form a strong defense for your case.
Call (206) 712-2756 to secure an initial consultation with Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson today. Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson represent clients in family law cases throughout all of King County including Kent and Seattle.