Stalking refers to a pattern of malicious behavior that may include repeatedly showing up at an estranged partner's house or otherwise causing fear or apprehension in the other person. It is not a one-time event. Stalking charges typically involve divorced or estranged couples, in addition to celebrity stalkers, and often result in restraining orders against offenders.
What Are Virginia's Laws Against Stalking?
In Virginia, stalking is defined as repeated conduct which places a person, or his or her family, in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury. The stalkers' actions can be as overt as making repeated threats to harm you or your family or as innocuous as simply showing up in the parking lot of your workplace every day and waiting for you.
What Is A Stalking Protective Order?
If you or someone you know is being stalked, consider seeking a protective order. A Stalking Protective Order is a civil order that can:
- Order the stalker to refrain from further acts of stalking;
- Prohibit contact between the stalker and you and/or your family, including in person, phone and /or mail contact with you;
- Order the stalker to stay away from your residence and/or place of employment.
Who Can Get A Stalking Protective Order?
Anyone may request an Emergency Stalking Protective Order from a judge or magistrate. The stalking victim may then petition the General District Court for a Preliminary and/or Stalking Protective Order.
Furthermore, if you are related or married to, living together in the last 12 months or have children in common with the stalker, you may also be able to apply for a family abuse protective order.
Penalties For Stalking
Virginia stalking laws charge first offenses as misdemeanors, and the state automatically issues a restraining order upon conviction.
If you are charged with a third stalking offense or related charges within the previous five (5) years, it becomes a Class 6 Felony offense, with penalties of up to five (5) years in prison.
Learn more about Virginia's stalking laws in the following table. See Stalking in FindLaw's criminal charges section for additional details.
|Stalking Defined as
||Intent or knowledge that repeated acts cause reasonable fear
||Class 1 misdemeanor
|Penalty for Repeat Offense
||Commission of 3rd offense within 5 yrs.: Class 6 felony
|Arrest or Restraining Order Specifically Authorized by Statute?
||Restraining order issued upon conviction
|Constitutionally Protected Activities Exempted?
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Virginia domestic violence attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Virginia Stalking Laws: Related Resources