Police responded to popular YouTube star Logan Paul’s residence in Los Angeles recently after two alleged stalkers hopped a fence and vandalized one of his cars. One suspect, a male, was arrested while the other, an underage female, was released into her parents’ custody.
Stalking is covered under California Penal Code 646.9 and is described as (willfully and maliciously) repeatedly following, harassing, or threatening someone to the point that they fear for the safety of themselves and/or their family. Some examples include:
Frequently sending emails to an ex-lover that include threats (either specific or non-specific in nature)
Following someone home from school or work while occasionally making menacing statements to them at work or school
Making frequent unwanted advances toward someone and threatening them if they don’t respond favorably
California has some of the toughest stalking laws in the nation, and they are usually associated with the large number of celebrities who live out here. California’s stalking laws were passed in 1990 in response to the cases involving two actresses: Theresa Saldana and Rebecca Schaeffer, who were both stalked and attacked by deranged fans. Saldana was stalked and repeatedly stabbed, though she survived. Schaeffer, unfortunately, wasn’t as lucky and did not survive the attack.
Interestingly, celebrity stalking cases comprise a very small amount of California’s stalking cases. Most of the time, stalking cases come from someone who the victim already knows, and the stalking occurs via the internet (cyberstalking), through the workplace, or in connection to a domestic violence case. Additionally, 80 percent of stalking victims are female.
Stalking can occur in a variety of ways, including following someone or “accidentally” running into them repeatedly, sending emails, voice mails or text messages, calling them on the phone, driving by their home or office, sending unwanted gifts, and gathering an inordinate amount of information about someone. If the victim of a stalking is a current or ex-lover, a roommate, a parent of one of your children, or someone you were dating, the crime will be known as “intimate partner stalking” and be addressed under California’s domestic violence laws.
Stalking is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the defendant’s prior criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the specific case. However, the crime will always be charged as a felony if the victim had a restraining order active against the defendant, and/or the defendant has a prior stalking conviction.
When charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include the typical misdemeanor penalties of informal probation, up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. It can also include a restraining order against the defendant and/or treatment in a mental facility. Felony penalties include formal probation, 16 months to five years in California state prison, a maximum $1,000 fine, a restraining order, possible treatment at a mental health facility, and possible registration as a sex offender.