Stalking is not new, but state laws addressing it as a crime were introduced relatively recently. A pattern of malicious behavior, such as repeatedly parking outside of someone's home with the intention of intimidating that person (after being told to stop), is considered stalking. Stalking laws are often invoked in the context of domestic violence or among otherwise estranged partners.
For example, Jane has divorced Bill and is now dating other men. Bill knows her favorite places to go out, so he begins showing up at her dates and shouting insults toward her. He even threatens her with violence, causing Jane to fear for her safety. This pattern of malicious behavior would be considered stalking.
However, it would not be stalking if Bill did this once (although any threats may be taken seriously) and then never engaged in this type of behavior again.
Ohio stalking law ("menacing by stalking") prohibits the following behaviors:
- No person by engaging in a pattern of conduct shall knowingly cause another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to the other person.
- No person, through the use of any electronic method of remotely transferring information, including, but not limited to, any copmuter, computer network, computer program, or computer system, shall post a message with purpose to urge or incite another to commit a [pattern of malicious behavior, as described above].
Other examples of stalking include repeated phone calls of a threatening or harrassing manner; showing up at someone's place of employment; or vandalizing someone's property. Stalking is not limited to domestic relationships and can be committed by someone who is obsessed with a celebrity or other public figure.
The basics of Ohio's stalking laws are listed below. See What is Domestic Violence? to learn more about stalking and related crimes.
||2903.211, .214 (menacing by stalking)
|Stalking Defined as
||Knowingly causing another fear of physical harm or mental distress
||Misdemeanor in 1st degree
|Penalty for Repeat Offense
||Felony of 4th degree
|Arrest or Restraining Order Specifically Authorized by Statute?
||Restraining order allowed
|Constitutionally Protected Activities Exempted?
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact an Ohio domestic violence attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Ohio Stalking Laws: Related Resources