Stalking charges, punished under Penal Code 646.9 PC, are taken seriously by California prosecutors. If you face allegations of stalking, they could jeopardize your livelihood, freedom, and rights. You will need a skilled and dedicated criminal attorney to assist you in fighting against these charges. A knowledgeable lawyer can negotiate a plea bargain for a lesser offense, a reduced sentence, or even dismissal of charges.

At the Restraining Order Law Firm, we deeply understand how local courts operate and have extensive expertise in California criminal law and the justice system. We are fully equipped to represent defendants facing stalking charges in Los Angeles and the surrounding cities.

If you face an arrest or a stalking charge, our team of attorneys will carefully analyze all the facts surrounding your case and build a defense strategy tailored to secure a favorable outcome for you. Take the first step today by contacting us for a confidential consultation to evaluate your case.

An Overview of Criminal Stalking

Stalking is a serious offense addressed under California Penal Code 646.9 PC. It involves repeatedly following a specific person with the intent to harass, threaten, or intimidate them. The crime is often associated with a pattern of unwanted behavior that causes the victim to fear for their safety or well-being.

You could make the plaintiff fear for their life by performing acts, including:

  • Repeatedly following or monitoring the victim - This could involve closely observing the victim's activities, following them, or using surveillance methods to track their movements. This persistent monitoring can cause the victim to feel constantly watched and invade their privacy.
  • Unwanted communication - You could engage in unwarranted communication with the victim, including repeated phone calls, texts, emails, or social media messages. These communications can be harassing, threatening, intrusive, and intended to instill fear or control in the victim.
  • Unwarranted gifts or messages - You could send unsolicited gifts, letters, or messages to the victim to gain their attention or cause emotional distress. These unwanted gestures can allow the stalker to exert power and control over the victim's life.
  • Surveillance and intrusion: You could invade the victim's personal space and privacy by trespassing on their property and secretly installing surveillance devices, making the victim feel unsafe and violated.

What the Prosecutor Must Prove in Court

If you face charges under PC 646.9, the prosecutor bears the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Below are the elements that the prosecutor must establish:

Willfully, Maliciously, And Repeatedly

The prosecutor must demonstrate that you committed the crime willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly. Willfully means that you acted intentionally or purposefully, with knowledge of your actions and their consequences. Your behavior must also be deemed malicious, indicating an intent to cause harm, annoy, harass, or intimidate the victim. Furthermore, your actions must have occurred more than once, indicating a pattern of behavior rather than an isolated incident.


The law requires the prosecution to prove that you intentionally engaged in conduct that seriously annoys, torments, terrorizes, or alarms the complainant and serves no legitimate purpose. A course of conduct is a series of actions taken over a period of time to achieve a particular goal.

Credible Threat

A credible threat involves one that reasonably causes the victim to fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family. The threat may be explicit or implied, and it must be one that an ordinary person would consider credible or feasible under the circumstances. Perpetrators could make credible threats electronically, in writing, or orally.

Reasonable Fear

"Reasonable fear" refers to a genuine and justifiable apprehension or concern for one's or one's immediate family's safety. In stalking, the victim's fear is objectively reasonable based on the circumstances surrounding the alleged stalking behavior. The fear experienced by the victim must be grounded in a rational evaluation of the situation, considering your actions, words, and behaviors.

Immediate Family

Under California law, "immediate family" refers to individuals who are related to each other by blood, marriage, domestic partnership, or adoption. This typically includes spouses, registered domestic partners, parents, children, siblings, and grandparents. Stalking behaviors directed at the immediate family members of an individual can also be considered under Penal Code 646.9.

Penalties, Sentencing, and Punishment for a Penal Code 646.9 Violation

If found guilty of a Penal Code 646.9 Violation, you could be subject to two types of sentencing, including:

Criminal Penalties

Stalking is considered a wobbler offense. So, the prosecution could charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony.

  1. Misdemeanor Offense

If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties for stalking may include:

  1. A fine of up to $1,000.
  2. A maximum jail sentence of one year.
  3. Misdemeanor probation.
  1. Felony Offense

Under certain circumstances, stalking can be charged as a felony offense. The factors that may elevate the offense to a felony include:

  • Prior Convictions: If you have a previous conviction for stalking or a similar offense, the subsequent stalking offense can be charged as a felony.
  • Restraining Order Violation: If your stalking behavior violates a court-issued restraining order, it can be charged as a felony.

For a felony stalking offense, possible punishments include the following:

  • A state prison sentence ranging from 16 months to 5 years.
  • A fine not exceeding $1,000.
  • Felony probation.

Civil Penalties

In addition to criminal penalties, stalking victims may also pursue civil remedies. Before the court awards damages, the plaintiff must show the court certain things, which are:

  • You performed certain actions to pursue or trouble the "victim." The court requires that the plaintiff present corroborating evidence other than their testimony.
  • Due to your actions, the "victim" had a justifiable fear for their safety or that of an immediate family member.
  • You either:
    • Issued a credible threat targeting the safety of the victim or a family member and continued the harassing conduct despite the victim's request to cease.
    • Breached a restraining order against you.

If the complainant proves their case in a civil lawsuit, they may be awarded damages for various losses suffered due to the stalking, including:

  1. Compensatory Damages

When pursuing a legal case for stalking, plaintiffs have the right to seek compensatory damages to help them recover from the harm caused. These damages provide monetary compensation for the losses victims have suffered. In a stalking case, accusers may be eligible for economic and non-economic damages.

  1. Economic Damages.

Economic or special damages are awarded to reimburse the victim for specific financial losses due to the stalking incident. Examples of economic damages include:

  1. Medical Expenses: If you require medical treatment due to the stalking, such as therapy sessions, hospital visits, or prescription medications, the plaintiff can claim these costs as economic damages.
  2. Property Damage: If you cause any damage to the plaintiff’s property, such as vandalism or destruction of personal belongings, they can seek compensation for the repair or replacement costs.
  3. Lost Wages: If the stalking caused the accuser to miss work and resulted in lost income, the court could order you to compensate them for the wages they would have earned during that time.
  4. Security Measures: If your victim had to take additional security precautions, such as installing a security system, changing locks, or moving to a safer location, the expenses associated with these measures could be included as economic damages.

The amount of economic damages your victim can recover depends on several factors, including financial losses and supporting evidence such as medical bills, repair receipts, and employment records.

  1.  Non-economic Damages

In addition to economic damages, your victim may also be eligible for non-economic damages, which aim to compensate them for the intangible losses you caused due to the stalking. These damages are more subjective and can include the following:

  1. Pain and Suffering: Non-economic damages can account for the physical and emotional pain, distress, and suffering the accuser endured due to your course of conduct.
  2. Loss of Enjoyment: If the stalking affected the stalking victim’s ability to enjoy life, engage in activities they once loved, or damage their personal relationships, you could compensate them for the loss of enjoyment.
  3. Emotional Distress: Stalking can cause significant psychological harm, leading to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health issues. Non-economic damages can provide compensation for the emotional distress endured.
  4. Loss of Consortium: If the stalking impacted the victim’s relationship with their spouse or partner, resulting in a loss of companionship, affection, or support, the court could order you to compensate them.
  1. Punitive Damages

In California, punitive damages are granted based on specific Civil Code Section 3294 criteria. To qualify for these damages, you should provide compelling evidence that the defendant committed acts of oppression, fraud, or malice.

Oppression refers to reprehensible behavior that imposes severe and unfair suffering on you. Fraud involves purposeful deceit for individual benefit. Malice signifies actions motivated by ill intentions or a deliberate indifference towards the rights and welfare of others.

The Immigration Consequences for a PC 646.9 Violation

Under U.S. immigration laws, a non-citizen defendant may face deportation or be deemed inadmissible if they are convicted of a stalking offense that involves certain aggravating factors. These factors can vary but generally include:

  • Crimes of Moral Turpitude: Stalking involving elements of moral turpitude can result in deportation or inadmissibility. Crimes of moral turpitude encompass acts considered inherently immoral, dishonest, or depraved.
  • Felony Convictions: Non-citizen defendants convicted of a felony stalking offense may face severe immigration consequences. Felony offenses typically carry more significant immigration ramifications compared to misdemeanor offenses.
  • Aggravated Felony: If the stalking offense is classified as an aggravated felony under immigration laws, the consequences for non-citizen defendants are particularly severe. Aggravated felonies have broad definitions and can include offenses such as violent crimes, sexual offenses, and certain drug-related offenses.

Expunging a Stalking Conviction

Expungement refers to the legal procedure of setting aside a conviction and dismissing the case against an individual. It allows individuals with a criminal record to obtain a fresh start and move forward with their lives.

Under Penal Code 1203.4 in California, it is possible to seek the expungement of a stalking conviction, subject to certain conditions, including:

  • You have completed your probation period, including any counseling, classes, or other requirements imposed by the court as part of your sentencing.
  • You should not have incurred any new criminal charges or convictions since the time of the stalking offense.

If you meet the above conditions, you can petition the court to expunge your stalking conviction. If the court grants the expungement, your conviction will be set aside, and the case will be dismissed. However, even after expungement, certain entities, such as law enforcement agencies and some employers, may still access the conviction information.

How a Stalking Conviction Affects Your Gun Rights

A stalking conviction can lead to restrictions and prohibitions under California law. Specifically, California law prohibits certain individuals from acquiring or possessing firearms. These individuals fall into six categories:

  • Convicted Felons: California law prohibits individuals convicted of a felony offense from owning or possessing firearms. A stalking conviction, if classified as a felony, would fall into this category and result in a restriction on gun rights.
  • Certain Misdemeanor Offenders: Individuals convicted of specific misdemeanor offenses, including domestic violence misdemeanors, are prohibited from possessing firearms. It is essential to note that some stalking offenses can be charged as misdemeanors, depending on the circumstances and the defendant's prior criminal record.
  • Individuals with Active Restraining Orders: California law prohibits individuals subject to an active restraining order from possessing firearms. If a stalking conviction resulted in the issuance of a restraining order against the defendant, they would be prohibited from owning or possessing firearms while the order was in effect.
  • Persons Addicted to Controlled Substances: Individuals addicted to or unlawfully using controlled substances, as determined by the court, are prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • Individuals with Mental Health Conditions: California law prohibits individuals adjudicated as mentally ill, including those involuntarily committed to a mental institution, from possessing firearms.
  • Juvenile Offenders: Individuals adjudicated as wards of the court for certain offenses committed as juveniles are prohibited from possessing firearms until age 30.

The Legal Defenses to 646.9 PC Charges

Below are examples of defenses that can be used to challenge the 646.9 PC charges against you:

Constitutionally Protected Activity

Engaging in constitutionally protected activities, such as exercising free speech, legally protesting, or participating in an assembly, is a valid defense against stalking charges. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees individuals the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

These rights are highly valued and protected by the legal system. When it comes to stalking charges, engaging in constitutionally protected activities can be used to challenge the allegations. If the conduct falls within the scope of protected activities and does not involve harassment, credible threats, or actions intended to cause fear or distress, it can be argued that the behavior does not constitute stalking.

No Intent to Cause Fear

Stalking requires that you act willfully and with the intent to cause fear, harassment, or distress to the alleged victim. If you show that you did not have the intention to cause fear or alarm, it could be a viable defense against your charges.

Your defense attorney may argue that the defendant's actions were misunderstood or misinterpreted and that there was no deliberate intention to instill fear or create a sense of harassment.

No Credible Threat

Stalking charges necessitate a credible threat against the safety of the victim or their immediate family. A credible threat refers to a threat that a reasonable person would believe could be carried out and would cause fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family.

Demonstrating that the alleged conduct did not involve any credible threats can undermine the prosecution's case and serve as your defense.

Lack of Repeated Conduct

Stalking involves a pattern of willful, malicious, and repeated conduct. If the alleged behavior was an isolated incident rather than a pattern of behavior, it may be argued that the elements of stalking are not met.

False Accusations

In some cases, false accusations of stalking may arise due to misunderstandings, personal vendettas, or ulterior motives. Presenting evidence that supports the notion of false accusations can be a strong defense strategy.

Crimes Related To Stalking

In California, the prosecution could charge particular offenses along with or in place of stalking. These include:

Kidnapping, Penal Code 207 PC

Although not directly related to stalking, in some instances, stalking behaviors can escalate to kidnapping. Under Penal Code 207 PC, a person can be charged with kidnapping if they:

  • Illegally take, detain, or move another person.
  • Use force, fear, or fraud to accomplish the act.
  • Move the person a substantial distance, even if it is within the same building or area.

Kidnapping is classified into two categories:

  1. First-Degree Kidnapping

First-degree kidnapping involves specific circumstances, such as:

  1. The victim is under the age of 14.
  2. The kidnapping is committed for ransom, reward, or to commit another crime.
  3. The victim is taken outside of the state.
  4. The victim suffered serious bodily harm during the kidnapping.
  1. Second-Degree Kidnapping

Second-degree kidnapping encompasses all other cases that do not meet the criteria for first-degree kidnapping.

Annoying phone calls, Penal Code 653m PC

A PC 653 violation involves making repeated or threatening phone calls to annoy, harass, or disturb another person. Under Penal Code 653m PC, a person can be charged with making annoying phone calls if they:

  • Make repeated phone calls or contact another person via an electronic communication device.
  • Intend to annoy, harass, or disturb the other person.
  • Make calls or contacts using obscene language or threats of injury or death.
  • Make calls or contacts without a legitimate purpose for the communication.

Annoying phone calls can be made through various means, including traditional phone calls, text messages, emails, or any other form of electronic communication.

Criminal Threats – Penal Code PC 422 PC

Criminal threats is defined by Penal Code 422 PC. This offense involves making threats to harm or kill another person, causing them to fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family.

You can be charged with making criminal threats if you:

  • Willfully and maliciously threaten to kill or inflict great bodily injury on another person.
  • Communicate the threat orally, in writing, or electronically.
  • Intend to cause the person to be in sustained fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family.
  • The threat is specific and communicated in a manner that reasonably causes the person to believe that the threat will be carried out.

Find a Restraining Order Law Firm Near Me

Stalking charges carry significant weight and require assertive and efficient legal representation. Whether you are currently under investigation or an arrest for stalking, having an attorney by your side is crucial.

Seeking the assistance of a criminal defense attorney, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the stalking charges, is your optimal course of action. At the Restraining Order Law Firm, we understand the importance of taking a proactive approach, as it can make a substantial difference between facing no charges or dealing with misdemeanor or felony charges.

Our lawyers will examine all pertinent information, conduct a thorough investigation, and build a strong defense strategy on your behalf. If you are facing stalking charges in Los Angeles, speak with our attorneys at 424-600-7691.