Domestic violence is its own umbrella of crimes. In fact, there are so many crimes associated with domestic violence and it's such a hot political topic that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has their own victim impact unit which is a group of prosecutors in each courthouse that just prosecute domestic violence-related offenses.
So, if someone is stalking another individual, whether it be someone they don't know, their girlfriend, their significant other, their wife, then this VIP or victim impact group of prosecutors will likely be the ones who deal with the case.
Stalking Enhances a Domestic Violence Case
Obviously, that will enhance or exacerbate a domestic violence situation if someone is stalking another individual. That stalking can take a number of different forms, but really it has to do with the person following the other person around, calling them multiple times, showing up at locations where the other person is intentionally to be able to try to make contact with that individual.
Under California Penal Code Section 646.9, stalking is a crime that can result in a felony conviction and substantial prison time.
An example, and it's a case that I've done recently is when two young lovers get together. They're in college and they become boyfriend and girlfriend and then the relationship goes bad.
Then one of the partners, instead of just moving on, continues to call, follow around, is there at the person's class, is there where the person eats lunch, goes to where the person eats dinner, goes to their dorm room.
The victim in the case has made it real clear to the stalker that they do not want to see them anymore and yet the stalker continues to pursue them. Then police get involve. They tell the person to stay away from the victim and the stalker continues to follow the victim around. Now you're in a stalking situation.
The question is, is that a form of a domestic violence case? The answer is yes, it absolutely is. But, to get a domestic violence-related offense like a battery for example, you're going to actually have to physically strike the person, otherwise, you'll just be charged with stalking.
Elements of a Staking Offense
As far as the severity of the stalking, whether it's a felony or a misdemeanor, it will depend on the discretion of the prosecutors and they're going to look at a whole host of factors, including how bad your behavior looks to them, the impact it has on the victim and the length of time that the stalking is going on.
The suspect could be charged with making harassing or annoying phone calls in violation of California Penal Code Section 653(m).
So, a lot of times we'll see domestic violence-related charges like battery combined with stalking charges filed against somebody. Obviously, if you can avoid it, you don't want to have a stalking-related offense on your record.
So, we'd probably much prefer some sort of domestic battery of spouse under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) if it's your wife charge than we would a stalking charge, and if we pared it down even further, we'd want to get a disturbing the peace, or a simple battery.
Seeking to Avoid a PC 646.9 Staking Conviction
We're trying to avoid a conviction that has life-altering consequences because somebody who is looking to give you a job for example, sees you're stalking your significant other or you have a domestic violence-related offense, they might not perceive you as being the most reliable good fit for the job because of this activity.
They may see that you have tendencies related to stalking/domestic violence that make you emotional, erratic and dangerous for their business.
So, in order to avoid those potential implications or ramifications, we obviously try to pare down the charge. Certainly, we're going to try to get a dismissal or a not guilty verdict if you're innocent.
But if you're not innocent and the evidence is there, either through witnesses or physical evidence, then we're going to have to do damage control and minimize the effects of the stalking or domestic violence-related charges so that you can protect your rights, your freedom and your reputation.