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The basics of a stalking charge

When a Virginia resident is romantically interested in another person, he or she may be willing to do anything to get the other person's attention. Sometimes people may go too, far, however, and find themselves facing a stalking charge instead of going on a date.

Stalking can take many forms. FindLaw says that a person is stalking someone else if he or she is continually threatening or harassing someone. Relentlessly following someone can also be an element of this crime, and the person who is being stalked may fear for his or her safety. Some people may associate stalking with domestic violence. Sometimes this crime does involve a domestic partner, such as an ex-spouse or an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. However, sometimes people may stalk a complete stranger if they have a romantic interest in this person. 

While some people may think they have a stalker the first time someone writes a threatening message or follows them, this is usually not the case. In order for this offense to take place, someone has to continue the behavior so there is a pattern of harassment. When people realize they have a stalker, one of the things they can do is take out a protective order. This order means that the stalker is legally required to stay away from the other person for a particular amount of time. While some people may think a protective order means that a stalker cannot be anywhere near them, this may not always be the case. Some protective orders may require a person to keep a specific distance from someone else.  

According to the Virginia Law Library, someone is usually charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor when he or she stalks another person. If a person continues to stalk the same person within a five year period, he or she may be charged with a Class 6 felony. Some people may also be banned from contacting the person they stalked, as well as any member of that person's family.

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