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Pennsylvania Stalking Laws

In general, stalking is characterized as a pattern of malicious and willful behavior, rather than a one-time event. When it comes to stalking, we often call to mind images of someone lurking outside of a window in the middle of the night. However, stalking can also occur in less direct ways, such as making repeated phone calls or leaving unwanted gifts. The key component of a stalking case is that, taken as a whole, the stalker’s actions cause the victim to be fearful and/or emotionally distressed.

Pennsylvania's stalking law defines the crime as repeated harassment that creates substantial emotional distress. A conviction of stalking is a misdemeanor of the 1st degree. If the defendant has a prior conviction for stalking the same victim, it is considered to be a felony of the 3rd degree.

Stalking is often charged against estranged partners and spouses. Victims of stalking typically seek restraining orders (also called "orders of protection") to keep offenders away. A restraining order is an official court document that generally requires the defendant to stay away from the victim, the victim’s home or place of work, and oftentimes to cease all communication with the victim.

Below are the basic elements of Pennsylvania's stalking law. See Details on State Stalking Laws to learn more.

Code Section

18 §2709.1

Stalking Defined as

Course of conduct or repeated acts without authorization with intent to place in reasonable fear or cause substantial emotional distress


Misdemeanor of the 1st degree. If previously convicted of crime of violence against victim, family or household member: felony of the 3rd degree

Penalty for Repeat Offense

Felony of the 3rd degree

Arrest or Restraining Order Specifically Authorized by Statute?


Constitutionally Protected Activities Exempted?

Yes, labor disputes or any constitutionally protected activity

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

More Information

For more information on Pennsylvania’s stalking laws, you can click on the links to related resources below. You can also learn more about the topic, in general, by checking out FindLaw’s articles on stalking, as well as the different state laws criminalizing stalking. Finally, depending on your circumstances, you may want to retain either a family law or criminal defense lawyer.

Pennsylvania Stalking Laws Related Resources:

Charged with Stalking in Pennsylvania? Get Legal Help Today

Even if you didn't mean to cause apprehension or fear by repeatedly visiting your ex-spouse's place of employment or leaving daily messages, such a pattern of behavior constitutes a crime in certain circumstances. Your best bet when confronting stalking charges is to get help from a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney.

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