Stalking Laws by State

Definitions of Stalking and Related Offenses

While most people probably have an image of stalking in their head that includes following a person around and sneaking peeks in windows the actual law and crime is much more complicated. The State of New York defines stalking as "A persistent and unwanted pursuit of an individual by another that would cause a reasonable person to fear. It is an intentional and unpredictable course of conduct that can be annoying, intrusive, intimidating, threatening and harmful." But every state has its own definition of the crime of stalking with different issues that should be considered when trying to understand the laws.

One of the common threads of what defines an action as stalking is if unwanted contact is made with an individual. In general, if someone has asked a person leave them alone and they attempt to continue any kind of relationship stalking has occurred. 

Stalking is a serious crime.

While some forms of stalking such as excessive phone calls or showing up at the victim's place of business may not seem like that big of a deal these kinds of actions should be taken very seriously. Victims of domestic abuse have a high likelihood of being stalked by their former partner. However, perpetrators of stalking don't always have past relationships with their victims as is often the case with celebrities. Victims of stalking experience a great deal of fear and some have even been attacked or murdered by their stalker. Victims of stalking experience a great deal of fear. There have been many cases where cases of stalking turned violent.

Some victims have even been attacked or murdered by their stalker. This is especially true in cases where the perpetrator is a former partner. If a friend or loved one tells you they're being stalked you should contact the authorities. 

The following links provide the definitions of stalking and related offenses, such as harassment, from the laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Source: National Center for Victims of Crime

What to do if you're being stalked

If you have reason to believe you're being stalked there are certain steps you should take no matter what state you’re in. If you suspect you are in physical danger always contact the police immediately. Keep records of any contact your stalker makes, this included digital communication such as text messages, emails, and instant messages. If your stalker sends physical mail​, keep that as well. Make sure your home is secure against break-ins. A home alarm system which can automatically alert police in case of a break-in may be a good investment. The police are ready and willing to help if you are concerned you’re being stalked.