MORE THAN 45 YEARS' COMBINED LEGAL EXPERIENCE
An estimated 3.4 million people are affected by stalking in the United State every year. According to Washington law, this crime is a serious offense, and many victims of stalking fear that the will be harassed for the rest of their lives. Long-term stalking can even leave victims dealing with paranoia, social dysfunction, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
While many people believe that stalking is a serious epidemic in the U.S., the rise of stalking cases could lead to another phenomenon: false allegations of stalking and harassment. In other words, the increased awareness of stalking in the United States could generate unnecessary fear and overzealous accusations.
If you or someone you love was accused of stalking in Seattle, contact the legal team at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC today.
WHAT IS "STALKING?"
According to Washington state laws, RCW § 9a.46.110, stalking occurs when a person repeatedly follows or harasses another person. In order for the alleged stalker to face criminal charges, the victim must be
"placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure the person, another person, or property of the person or of another person. The feeling of fear must be one that a reasonable person in the same situation would experience under all the circumstances…"
In other works, stalking does not occur unless the alleged victim feels intimidated and fears for his / her wellbeing. If a rational person would not feel the same fear, the alleged stalker cannot face a legitimate accusation.
DEFENSE FOR STALKING CHARGES
If the victim did not tell the alleged stalker that he / she was afraid, the defendant can still face charges. Additionally, it is not reasonable defense for the defendant to claim that he / she did not intend to frighten, harass, or intimidate the witness. These restrictions make it difficult to combat stalking charges alone. That's why you need a high-quality legal representative to help you establish a case for your innocence.
- Stalking and Private Investigators – A private investigator could face stalking allegations because investigators follow people as part of their occupation. Following someone as a legitimate private investigator is an acceptable defense to this criminal allegation.
FELONY STALKING CHARGES
In Washington, stalking is usually a gross misdemeanor offense; however, specific circumstances could lead to felony charges. These include:
- The defendant was previously convicted of harassment involving the same victim or his / her family
- The defendant violated a protective order held against him / her
- The defendant was allegedly in possession of a lethal weapon
- The victim was a law enforcement officer, juror, judge, lawyer, legislator, etc.
- The alleged victim is a witness or potential witness in an adjudicative proceeding
In order to face a legitimate stalking allegation, the defendant must repeatedly follow or harass the victim. By law, the term "repeatedly" can refer to as few as two instances.
CONTACT OUR SEATTLE DEFENSE TEAM AT (206) 619-1970
If you were arrested for stalking, contact our team of Seattle criminal defense attorneys today. We have more than four decades of legal experience. Today, we are ready to use this knowledge to your advantage. If you were arrested in Seattle and don't know what to do next, Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC is the place to turn.
Take the right step after being charged! Call 206.209.0608