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Heed the warning signs of stalking behavior

Stalking in California is not something done mainly by strangers. In fact, the opposite is true; although sometimes it is done by a stranger, stalkers are many times an estranged spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend. It is not limited to adults either; teens can be stalking victims too. It can be a frightening experience for anyone who thinks they are being stalked, and it is something that you should take very seriously.

The National Center for Victims of Crime cautions teens to be aware of their own feelings as a measure of the behavior. If someone’s actions make you nervous, afraid or even harassed, you may be in danger. Stalking behaviors include a number of actions, including:

  • “Bumping into you” at a variety of places
  • Constantly sending you e-mails, texts and photos
  • Posting comments about you on social websites
  • Damaging or stealing your property
  • Sending you unwanted gifts

Even a current boyfriend or girlfriend can stalk the other with these behaviors and more. Others may consider the constant attention a measure of affection, but you must judge for yourself whether the behavior is sweet or scary.

Does your “significant other” text or call constantly to check up on you, who you are with and what you are doing? Do they become angry or irritated if you do not answer right away? These are considered stalking behaviors and they can point to an abusive relationship.

FindLaw explains that California law defines stalking as repeated harassment of someone that makes a “credible” threat of harm. Victims can seek a restraining order against the stalker, which is important as it can help you not only remain safe but establish a case for stronger penalties against the stalker.

The crime is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. If a stalker has previously been convicted of felony child or spousal abuse or violated an order of protection, the sentence can be extended by up to 5 years in prison. The same is true for repeat offenders.

This is general information about stalking, which you should not downplay. It is not intended as legal advice. 

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