Stalking would be the same crime, online or in person, if bill gets approval in Legislature


Stalking is stalking, whether it is in person or online, and they will be treated as identical crimes if a bill presented in the Legislature is adopted. 

Under current law, a person commits the crime of stalking if they repeatedly follow someone with the intent to intimidate and harass.

“Unfortunately, scholarly literature indicates that law enforcement has a tendency to downplay the behavior because the individual acts of stalking are not typically criminal on their own and do not appear threatening to someone who doesn’t understand the context,” said Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Shoreline, the sponsor of HB 1696. 

A person commits the crime of cyberstalking when they knowingly install electronic tracking devices on someone without consent. 

Stalking is a gross misdemeanor but can be a felony under certain circumstances. These exceptions include when the perpetrator has already been convicted of stalking or if the stalking violates an existing protective order. 

Cyberstalking is a gross misdemeanor as well, with certain circumstances classifying it as a felony.

Under the proposed bill, the criminal charges for cyberstalking would be the same as stalking — a gross misdemeanor and a class B felony under certain circumstances — and cyberstalking would fall under the crime of stalking rather than being its own crime. 

If a victim is experiencing substantial emotional distress, it would count as one of the elements of crime for stalking under HB 1696.

Davis said former intimate partners are to blame for 94% of domestic violence homicides and over half of those victims reported being stalked to police before the murder.

Contrary to popular belief, stalking in a physical and remote form are both equally predictive of violence, she said. 

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  • Whoknows

    I would back this , IF, the stalker, who has a record of this behavior previously is placed b for e a judge and sentenced. Just remember that a Felony is a lifelong scar. And if not, historically patterned, that this person is evaluated mentally by professionals, who can help to determine if they can be treated successfully over a period of time, and for someone whom this is/was a one-off scenario. Reasoning involves those who just aren't mentally capable of discerning the difference between loneliness and dangerous behavior. In saying this I am not in any way calling this behavior acceptable. But at some point we need to rethink how our judicial system is attempting to rehabilitate the first offenders, and not just keep growing our poison population if violence or mental torture is not present.



    I should say that our family has an individual who has been the target of this type of horrible behavior, so we are familiar with this and our family member is now doing much better and is much more careful due to physiological counseling

    Wednesday, February 22 Report this