4. California Law

California was the first state to pass an anti-stalking law in 1990 in response to the stalking and murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer. Now, all states have an anti-stalking law.

In California, both criminal and civil laws address stalking. According to the criminal laws, a stalker is someone who willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses another (victim) and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place the victim or victim's immediate family in fear for their safety. The victim does not have to prove that the stalker had the intent to carry out the threat. (California Penal Code 646.9,

The criminal penalty for stalking is imprisonment up to a year and/or a fine of up to $1,000. There are more severe penalties when the stalker pursues the same person in violation of a court restraining order, with a sentencing range of two to four years imprisonment. Persons convicted of felony stalking also face stricter penalties if they continue to stalk their victim(s). Courts may issue restraining orders to prohibit stalking. (California Family Code 6320)

A victim, family member or witness may request that the California Department of Corrections, county sheriff or the director of the local department of corrections notify them by phone or mail 15 days before a convicted stalker is released from jail or prison. The victim, family member or witness must keep these departments notified of their most current mailing address and telephone number. The information relating to persons who receive notice must be kept confidential and not released to the convicted stalker. (California Penal Code 646.92) The court may order a person convicted of felony stalking to register with local law enforcement officials within 14 days of moving to a city and/or county. (California Penal Code 646.9)

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A victim of stalking may bring a civil lawsuit against the stalker and recover money damages. (See Civil Code 1708.7 for the elements and remedies of the tort of stalking.)

Victims may also request that the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suppress their automobile registration and driver's license records from being released to persons other than court and law enforcement officials, other governmental agencies or specified financial institutions, insurers and attorneys. (California Vehicle Code 1808.21, 1808.22)

When stalking occurs in the workplace, an employer can request a temporary restraining order or an injunction on behalf of the employee who is a victim of stalking. (California Code of Civil Procedure 527.8)