Stalking Laws and Charges in the State of WashingtonLeave a Comment
Stalking is a serious crime that can result in severe penalties in Washington state. Stalking behavior can include in-person threats and following, as well as repeated calls, texts, and instant messages after being told to cease contact. If you are facing stalking charges in Washington, it is important to be aware of the laws and requirements surrounding this crime—and to contact a defense attorney as soon as possible.
What Is Stalking in Washington State?
Washington state has strict laws against stalking. According to RCW 9A.46.110, a person commits a stalking offense if the case meets the following criteria.
- The person intentionally and repeatedly harasses or follows another person.
- The person being harassed or followed fears that the stalker intends to harm the victim, another person, or property. A reasonable person in the same situation would experience the same sense of fear.
- The stalker intends to frighten, intimidate, or harass the victim or knows or should have reasonably known that the victim would feel afraid, harassed, or intimidated even if it was unintentional.
Stalking can be a gross misdemeanor or Class B felony crime in Washington state. A court will raise a stalking charge from a gross misdemeanor to a Class B felony if the case meets the any of the following criteria.
- The stalker has a previous criminal conviction for harassing the same victim, a member of the victim’s family or household, or another person named in the protection order.
- The stalker violates any protection order for the victim.
- The stalker has a previous gross misdemeanor or felony stalking conviction for stalking another person.
- The stalker was armed with a deadly weapon while committing the crime.
- The victim is a current, former, or prospective witness in a court case and the stalker intended to retaliate against the victim.
- The stalker’s victim holds a certain job, such as being an attorney, judge, child protective services employee, or corrections officer, and the stalker wants to retaliate against the victim or influence the victim’s job duties.
Stalking Protection Order Requirements
During criminal proceedings for a stalking case, a Washington prosecutor may request a harassment no contact order to prevent the defendant from contacting the victim during trial. Stalking victims can also request a civil stalking protection order against the defendant at any time.
To qualify for a stalking protection order, a victim must prove that he or she is experiencing stalking conduct at the hands of someone who is not a family or household member. Stalking protection orders can be temporary, least for one year, or become permanent.
Penalties for Stalking in Washington
If a person is found guilty of stalking, he or she can face serious criminal penalties, depending on the severity of the crime. For gross misdemeanor stalking charges, a defendant can face up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. In cases involving Class B felony stalking charges, a conviction can result in up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $20,000 fine.
If you are facing stalking charges, it is important to speak with a Washington criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Stalking charges can result in serious penalties, and in these situations, you need an advocate on your side. A criminal defense lawyer will work diligently to help you achieve the best possible outcome. Contact an attorney as soon as possible following your arrest to discuss your next steps. Contact us online or call (253) 272-8666 for a free consultation.