Myths and Facts about Stalking Laws in Arizona
In Arizona, both harassment and stalking are criminal offenses. Usually, they are a part of domestic violence but other situations in which stalking occurs are also possible. The stalking laws in Arizona are pretty strict when it comes to such offenses and the perpetrators are prosecuted insistently.
Stalking Laws in Arizona: An Overview
In 2016, HB 2419 became a law, amending the previous stalking and harassment provisions listed in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-2923.
The legal changes are aimed at making it easier for stalkers and individuals guilty of harassment to be arrested. According to the revised document, a person will be engaging in the stalking of another person whenever the following take place:
- The individual that’s being followed experiences emotional distress as a result
- Property is damaged or destroyed in the process
- The victim is physically injured
- A family member of the victim is physically injured
- A significant other or a former significant other of the victim is physically injured
- A roommate or another person residing at the home of the victim is physically injured
- There’s reasonable fear of death
- The victim fears for the lives of family members, significant others, roommates, etc.
As far as the definition of stalking itself is concerned, a few conditions will have to be met. The stalker’s course of conduct will usually involve one or more of the following:
- Maintaining (directly or indirectly through another person) visual or physical proximity with the victim
- Directing threats (verbal, written, etc.) towards the victim either directly or indirectly at least two times over any given period of time
- Using GPS technology and other digital communication channels for the purpose of doing surveillance of the victim’s activities (continuously for 12 hours or on two separate occasions over any given period of time)
- Communicating via any channel with the victim without being authorized
- Getting engaged in any other harassing/stalking behavior
Cyberstalking in Arizona
New technologies have made it possible for cyberstalking also to occur on a regular basis. Luckily, Arizona laws have provisions pertaining to stalking that takes place through the use of digital technologies.
All of the regulations in Arizona and the penalties pertain to stalking that takes place in person and stalking that occurs solely in the virtual world. These provisions are available ever since 1999.
Cyberstalking refers to intentionally being engaged in a behavior that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety/life, as well as for the safety/life of loved ones, roommates and intimate partners.
Whenever this happens, the stalker could be charged with a Class 5 felony. The penalty would be up to nine months in jail and a fine of up to 150,000 dollars.
A Detailed Overview of Penalties and Fines
Whenever a stalker has a previous conviction, they could be facing a much longer period in jail.
If a stalker is charged with a Class 3 felony, they will face one year in jail or at least two years in prison (up to 8.75 years). The charge could also include up to five years of probation. A protective order being in place will contribute to additional criminal charges.
In the best case scenario, stalking and cyberstalking will be classified as a misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor will lead to six months in jail and a fine of up to 2,500 dollars.
A person charged with stalking should also be aware of the fact that a civil lawsuit can be brought against them on top of the criminal charges. A civil restraining order is often sought by people who feel threatened and harassed by stalkers. Restraining orders are typically handled in civil courts. A violation of the restraining order, however, could potentially lead to new criminal charges against the perpetrator. Consult with experienced attorneys when stalking laws in Arizona are involved.