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Stalking Laws (PC 646.9) in California - IE Criminal Defense

California Penal Code 646.9(a): Stalking

Legal Definition: Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking.

In order for a conviction of a violation of PC 646.9(a) to be secured, the prosecution must substantiate the following factors with robust evidence:

  • The accused, with willful and malicious intent, engaged in harassment or persistently followed another individual
  • A credible threat was made with the purpose of instilling a reasonable fear for the safety of the target person or their immediate family.

These requirements are crucial in establishing the guilt beyond reasonable doubt and upholding the principle of justice. Our seasoned expertise in legal matters ensures accurate interpretation and evaluation of the provided evidence.

What does this mean?

A credible threat is one that instills reasonable fear for the safety of the target and their immediate family, and is capable of being carried out by the maker of the threat. Such threats can be communicated orally, in writing, electronically, or may be implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of statements and conduct. Harassment is defined as knowingly and willfully engaging in a course of conduct that seriously annoys, alarms, torments, or terrorizes a specific person, without any legitimate purpose.

A course of conduct refers to two or more acts that occur over any duration of time, demonstrating a consistent intent. The determination of whether a stalking charge is appropriate depends on the circumstances of the case, therefore, it can involve various means of communication such as messages, writings, and phone calls. The number of instances required to properly charge someone with the crime of stalking will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, ranging from a single incident to multiple incidents totaling five hundred or more phone calls. Rest assured that this analysis is conducted with expertise and experience to establish a solid foundation of trustworthiness and authority.


Stalking is a wobbler crime, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, based on the level of the contact with the victim, your criminal history, and the specific facts of your case. If you are convicted of this charge as a misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to up to one year in County Jail. If you are convicted of this offense as a felony, you could be sentenced to upwards of 16 months, two or three years in State Prison. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence.
Stalking, however, is not a serious or violent felony, and therefore not a Strike offense under the Three Strike’s Law. However, because this is a crime of repeated harassment, it will affect your legal status for immigration purposes, as well as any professional license you may hold. You likely could also be hit with a stay away or Criminal Protective Order to not contact the victim under any circumstances, or it would be a new law violation (PC 273.6).

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Violation of your Rights
  4. Mistake of Fact

These charges entail highly specific facts. Occasionally, individuals may exhibit over-dramatic tendencies, misunderstand, or misinterpret your words. In such situations, it is common to attempt contacting them again to rectify any existing confusion, but this approach can inadvertently exacerbate the issue with repeated calls. As experienced professionals, our expertise grants us the authority to navigate these circumstances with precision and ensure optimal resolution. Rest assured that, with our trustworthy guidance, we will effectively address any misunderstandings or concerns that may arise.

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Being charged with a crime you never imagined you’d be associated with can be a harrowing experience. A common misconception about stalking is that it always involves lurking in the shadows, relentless messaging, and a complete invasion of privacy. However, the legal criteria for a stalking charge under PC 646.9 can sometimes be less stringent than popular opinion dictates, catching many off guard.

This potential for misunderstanding is exactly why you need an adept and vigilant Criminal Defense Attorney by your side. A lawyer who can discern the intricacies of your case, challenge any inconsistencies, and work assiduously to reduce or even dismiss the charges, especially if you are facing unfounded accusations.

The Inland Empire Criminal Defense stands at the forefront of legal defense in cases like these. Our esteemed PC 646.9 Ontario criminal defense attorney, backed by an impressive record, has championed the cause of numerous clients facing charges under PC 646.9 and other related offenses. We are not just invested in the legal aspects of your case but are also committed to ensuring that you are kept informed and supported throughout the process.

Your journey towards justice begins with a free initial consultation where we lay the foundation for a robust defense. Our team remains accessible to you around the clock, addressing every query and concern you may have. When it’s your reputation and freedom on the line, trust none but the best. Reach out to the Inland Empire Criminal Defense located in Ontario, CA. Dial 909-281-0391 today!

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Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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