Pennsylvania Stalking Laws
In general, stalking is characterized as a pattern of malicious and willful behavior, rather than a one-time event. When it comes to stalking, we often call to mind images of someone lurking outside of a window in the middle of the night. However, stalking can also occur in less direct ways, such as making repeated phone calls or leaving unwanted gifts. The key component of a stalking case is that, taken as a whole, the stalker’s actions cause the victim to be fearful and/or emotionally distressed.
Pennsylvania’s stalking law defines the crime as repeated harassment that creates substantial emotional distress. A conviction of stalking is a misdemeanor of the 1st degree. If the defendant has a prior conviction for stalking the same victim, it is considered to be a felony of the 3rd degree.
Stalking is often charged against estranged partners and spouses. Victims of stalking typically seek restraining orders (also called “orders of protection”) to keep offenders away. A restraining order is an official court document that generally requires the defendant to stay away from the victim, the victim’s home or place of work, and oftentimes to cease all communication with the victim.
Course of conduct or repeated acts without authorization with intent to place in reasonable fear or cause substantial emotional distress could result in a Misdemeanor of the 1st degree. If previously convicted of crime of violence against the victim, family or household member: felony of the 3rd degree.