Stalking Law In SC & VA
Stalking is a crime and women are twice as likely to experience it as men. Stalking can be described as any unwanted, repeated contact from another person that makes the victim feel afraid or harassed.
Examples include intentionally following or frequently calling someone, or sending unwanted emails or messages on social media. Cyberstalking is the latest form of stalking that includes receiving unwanted, obscene, or frightening messages by email, instant messaging, or text messages. It also includes threatening or harassing a person on social media, tracking their computer and internet usage, and using technology like GPS to track their whereabouts. Any form of stalking is against the law.
Any repeated and unwanted contact with a person that makes you feel afraid or unsafe may mean that you are being stalked. In some cases it may be a stranger, however, most stalkers are known to their victims and may even be an intimate partner. It can also be a sign of an abusive relationship and if not properly dealt with, can get worse, even becoming violent. Some stalkers openly threaten the safety of the person by letting them know that they aim to harm them. Even when their actions are less threatening it is nevertheless unwanted contact. A stalker can make you feel uncomfortable and unsafe which may lead to sleep problems and a lack of concentration at work or school.
If you are experiencing the following you may have a stalker:
- Someone following you around or spying on you
- Calling you frequently
- Persistent, unwanted communication such as emails, letters, texts, or social media messages
- Presenting you with unwanted gifts
- Showing up uninvited at your home, work, school, or social gatherings
- Threatening violence towards you, someone close to you, or your pets
- Damaging your car, home, or other property
You can take steps to stop the stalker from harassing you. Federal law allows you to obtain a restraining order against the stalker, lay a charge, and seek compensation for damage.
Stalking Laws in Virginia
In Virginia, a person who engages in conduct directed at another person on more than one occasion with the intent of placing that person, or a person in their family or household in reasonable fear of bodily injury, criminal sexual assault, or fear of death is guilty of a Class 1 demeanor.
If convicted of a second offense within five years or a similar offense under any other jurisdiction he/she will be guilty of a Class 6 felony. Upon finding the person guilty the court shall issue an order prohibiting the defendant from any contact with the victim or household member or family member.
A civil case can be brought against a person engaged in prohibited conduct in Virginia, whether or not they have been convicted for the alleged violation, for compensatory damage incurred as a result of such conduct. If awarded, punitive damages may also be awarded to the victim.
Stalking Laws in South Carolina
In addition to being found guilty of stalking, offenders can also be found guilty of Harassment in the 1st degree, Harassment in the 2nd degree, electronic contact, pattern – evidencing a continuity of purpose, and family being targeted.
If found guilty a stalker faces a fine of not more than $5,000, imprisonment of not more than five years or both. If found guilty while a restraining order or injunction is in place the fine will be up to $7,000, 10 years imprisonment or both. An offender found guilty after a prior conviction will be fined up to $10,000, imprisonment of 15 years or both.