Every person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of stalking under Penal Code 646.9(a).
If you or a loved one are charged with stalking under Penal Code § 646.9(a), it is important to know what the prosecution must prove in order to convict you. It is also important to know what the important terms associated with this crime mean. We will now go through some of these key terms and what they mean using the specific jury instruction on point.
As used in the jury instruction, “Harasses” means a “knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose.” Moreover, this course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the person.”
Meanwhile, “Course of conduct” means a “pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose.” A “credible threat” means a “verbal or written threat, including that performed through the use of an electronic communication device, or a threat implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of verbal, written, or electronically communicated statements and conduct made with the intent to place the person that is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family and made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat so as to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family.”
It is important to note that intent to carry out the threat is not an element of this crime. Also, the fact, if it be a fact, that the person who allegedly made the threat was incarcerated at the time the threat was made, is not a defense.
Finally, in order to meet the prima facie case for stalking, each of the following elements must be proved:
1. A person willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed or harassed another person;
2. The person following or harassing made a credible threat; and 3. The person who made the threat did so with the specific intent to place the other
person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of the immediate family
of such person(s).
If the jury has reasonable doubt as to one of these elements, then they must find the defendant not guilty.
We hope that the information in this blog gives you some helpful insight into what is required to prove stalking under Penal Code § 646.9(a). If you or a loved one are facing stalking charges or any other type of criminal charge(s), call Wallin and Klarich today. Wallin and Klarich has a team of highly skilled, aggressive criminal defense attorneys ready to take your call 7 days week, 24 hours a day! Wallin and Klarich has been in the business of helping people with their criminal defense matters for over 30 years and we would like to help you with yours! A qualified, experienced attorney from the firm will be able to evaluate your case when you call.