Stalking

Updated December 2016   Fact Sheet PDF


Introduction

There is no widely accepted definition of "stalking." Nevertheless, the term "stalker" arouses certain common images in most people's minds. In a generic sense, the word "stalking" refers to predatory behavior and brings to mind a wide range of harassing behaviors that frighten or terrorize the victim.

 

Stalkers use several methods and instruments to harass and threaten their victims:

  • telephone
  • computer (Internet or email)
  • gifts
  • following (walking or transport)
  • going to the victim's home or work
  • vandalism

 

Arkansas Law

Stalking is a Crime in Arkansas

Stalking in the first degree is when someone knowingly engages in a course of conduct that places another person in fear for their safety and either (1) is violating an Order of Protection, (2) has previous stalking convictions, or (3) is or represents they are armed with a deadly weapon. This is a Class C felony. A.C.A. §5-71-229(a)

 

Stalking in the second degree occurs when someone knowingly engages in a course of conduct and makes a terroristic threat to make another person fear death or serious physical injury to themselves or a family member. This is a Class D felony. A.C.A. §5-71-229(b)

 

Stalking in the third degree is when someone knowingly commits an act that would normally place a person in fear for their or another’s safety. A.C.A. §5-71-229(c)

 

Responses to Being Stalked

Contact your local law enforcement agency immediately to file a complaint and be prepared to give details about the stalking. Write down occurrences after they happen so that you can clearly communicate to authorities what has taken place. Be specific when answering questions.

 

The Four Questions

  • What threat has been made?
  • When were the threats made?
  • How were the threats made?
  • Who made the threats?

 

Remember Specific Information

Remember information such as specific acts of violence that were threatened and whether weapons were present during the threat. Record the exact location and time of day that events occurred.

  • save communications with threats made in writing
  • if threats are made over the telephone, you may want to check with your local phone company about the possibility of tracing or recording phone calls
  • give police a description of the stalker and names of any witnesses who could help identify the person

 

What Happens Next?

You can file a complaint. When you file a complaint with local authorities concerning stalking, terroristic threatening, harassment, or harassing communications, a warrant may be issued for the arrest of the accused.

 

If the accused is arrested there will be an arraignment proceeding and the court will issue either a "no contact order" or a "protective order." The court may also order a mental health examination of the defendant. §5-71-229 It is important to get copies of these documents and keep them accessible at all times. If a violation of the order takes place, law enforcement officials will need to know the exact language of the document to determine what action can be taken against the accused.

 

Legal Remedies

Civil remedies include a no contact order or an order of protection if the case involves being stalked by an estranged or former spouse, someone you once dated, or immediate family.

 

Criminal remedies can include conviction of Class B felony for Stalking in the first degree or Class C felony for Stalking in the second degree.

 

Definitions

  • course of conduct: a pattern of conduct—two or more acts—that occurred within one year, separated by at least 36 hours
  • harassment: shoving, striking, kicking, or otherwise touching a person without good cause, or even threatening to do so; harassment can also involve the use of obscene language or gestures in a public place; following a person or continually being present outside of a school, place of employment, vehicle, or residence may be considered harassment
  • terroristic threatening: someone purposely terrorizing another person by threatening them with death, serious physical injury, or substantial property damage
  • immediate family: any spouse, parent, child, any person related by marriage or blood within the second degree, or any other person who either currently resides in the household or resided in the household within the prior six months
  • defenses: if the alleged stalker is a law enforcement officer, licensed private investigator, attorney, process server, licensed bail bondsman, or a store detective acting within the reasonable scope of their duty while conducting surveillance on an official work assignment or another constitutionally protected activity, they may have a defense against prosecution

 

Stalkers

Traits

Stalking behavior can be found in many people, and stalkers come from all income levels. Experts say it is almost impossible to create a single profile for stalkers. However, most stalkers exhibit some shared traits or commonalities. These include intense interest in the media, an inability to develop relationships, and a desire for recognition or attention.

 

Victims

In 2010, researchers estimated that approximately 5.1 million women and 1.4 men were stalked in the United States (Department of Justice 2010 report).

 

Most stalking victims are former lovers, former spouses, and spouses; however, some victims are co-workers, neighbors, celebrities, political figures, or strangers.

 

1 in 6 women (16.2%) and 1 in 19 men (5.2%) in the United States have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime, in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.

 

Two-thirds (66.2%) of female victims were stalked by a current or former intimate partner; men were primarily stalked by an intimate partner or an acquaintance.

 

Prevention

  • install dead bolts—if you cannot account for all keys, change locks and secure spare keys—if possible, install adequate outside lighting
  • maintain an unlisted telephone number—if harassing phone calls persist, call the police
  • treat any threats as legitimate—inform police
  • vary routes taken, and limit time spent walking
  • inform trusted neighbors (or colleagues) regarding the situation—provide neighbors with a photo or description of both the suspect and their vehicle
  • if residing in an apartment with an on-site manager, provide the manager with a picture of the suspect
  • have co-workers screen calls and visitors
  • when out, do not travel alone—stay in public areas
 

This fact sheet is a collaboration of the Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc. These nonprofit organizations provide free legal assistance to eligible Arkansans who meet income, asset, and other guidelines. Legal assistance may also include advice and counsel, brief services, or full representation depending on the situation. For more information about civil legal aid in Arkansas, please visit arlegalservices.org. For information specific to Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc., visit arlegalaid.org. Apply for services online or by calling 1-800-9-LAW-AID (1-800-952-9243).
The information and statements of law in this fact sheet should not be considered legal advice. This fact sheet is provided as a broad guide to help you understand how certain legal matters are handled in general. Courts may interpret the law differently. Before you take action, talk to an attorney and follow his or her advice. Always do what the court tells you to do.
Content provided by: Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc.

 

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