Information for Stalking Victims in WA State
Stalking is described as a pattern of unwanted behavior which usually includes harassing, monitoring, repeatedly trying to contact or following a person around. Such behavior can cause a person to feel afraid, threatened and intimidated. An even the electronic form of stalking called Cyberstalking qualifies as a crime. Even if staking does not involve any physical harm to the victim, it can have a negative mental impact on them.
What to do if you or anyone close to you is being stalked?
Stalking can be of different forms, and the best course of action varies from situation to situation. The court provides a protection order, but you need to take some action to ensure you are safe. If you feel that the situation is becoming serious, you need to speak to a domestic violence lawyer immediately. Anyone above the age of 16 can seek court protection on their own. If you are an undocumented immigrant, you will be offered the same help as the citizens and other documented immigrants. However, you need to first speak to your lawyer to ensure that going to a law enforcement agency is best for you. If the person being stalked is your child or a vulnerable person close to you, you can seek legal help on their behalf.
How does Washington State law protect you from a stalker?
Washington State helps their citizens from stalkers through civil and criminal law. A stalking victim can seek a protection order against the stalker, and it will mean that the stalker will not only have to stay away from you but also your children and your residence and place of work. Different types of protection orders can be issued against the stalker which includes Restraining Orders, No Contact Orders, Vulnerable Adult Protection Orders, and Sexual Assault Protection Orders depending on the unique situation.
If you are worried about your safety, you can ask the Secretary of State’s office to provide you with a substitute mailing address where all the mail will be directed to. For minors, the parents or a guardian can apply for a substitute address. You can also sue the stalker and also other people who might be directly or indirectly involved for causing financial and emotional damage by stalking along with other claims. You are also allowed to file criminal charges against the stalker where he could be prosecuted for committing a crime. Both stalking and cyberstalking carried a criminal penalty that can result in fine and imprisonment.
How can you prove that you are being stalked and what are your rights as a stalking victim?
You need to gather evidence against the stalker and record how the stalker is impacting your daily life. You can also take screenshots of the harassing or intimidating posts on social media platforms. You can also contact witnesses and write down about what they saw. You can use cameras and recording devices to gather evidence but need to be careful not to put yourself in the harm’s way. It is best to speak to a lawyer and know your rights as a stalking victim to ensure you are being treated right by people around you.
Chad Foster is a trusted Washington lawyer serving Snohomish and King counties with an office in Bothell. Contact us today to discuss your legal issue.