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Criminal Stalking in Washington State

Posted Thursday, March 1, 2018 by Lizanne Padula.

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Criminal stalking in Washington State can occur in a number of ways. Stalking can occur in person or via the internet, or other methods of communication. A few common examples of behaviors that may rise to the level of criminal stalking include:

• Repeatedly following, spying on, or monitoring an alleged victim.

• Repeatedly sending unwanted letters, e-mails, or text messages.

• Leaving unwanted items, like presents or flowers.

• Posting information and/or spreading rumors about the alleged victim on the internet or by word of mouth.

The foregoing are only a few examples of behavior that may lead to criminal charges for stalking in Washington State.

Criminal Stalking in Washington State

Under Washington State law, “(1) A person commits the crime of stalking if, without lawful authority and under circumstances not amounting to a felony attempt of another crime:

(a) He or she intentionally and repeatedly harasses or repeatedly follows another person; and

(b) The person being harassed or followed is placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure the person, another person, or property of the person or of another person. The feeling of fear must be one that a reasonable person in the same situation would experience under all the circumstances; and

(c) The stalker either:

(i) Intends to frighten, intimidate, or harass the person; or

(ii) Knows or reasonably should know that the person is afraid, intimidated, or harassed even if the stalker did not intend to place the person in fear or intimidate or harass the person.” RWC 9a.46.110(1).

To be convicted of stalking in Washing State, it is necessary for the prosecution to demonstrate that the alleged stalker either intended to “frighten, intimidate, or harass” the alleged victim, or that the alleged stalker knew or reasonably should have known that the alleged victim was “afraid, intimidated, or harassed.”

There is no duty for a person to tell an alleged stalker that they do not want to be contacted or followed. It is not a defense to the crime of stalking that the alleged stalker was not given actual notice that the person did not want to be contacted or followed by the alleged stalker. RWC 9a.46.110(2)(a). Also, it is not a defense that the alleged stalker did not intend to “frighten, intimidate, or harass” the person. RWC 9a.46.110(2)(b).

However, it is a defense to the crime of stalking if the defendant is a “licensed private investigator acting within the capacity of his or her license” as provided by Washington State law. RWC 9a.46.110(3).

Under Washington State stalking law, a first offense is typically charged as a gross misdemeanor (unless there are aggravating factors), while repeat offenses are charged as a Class B felony. RWC 9a.46.110(5).

If You Are Facing Criminal Charges

The skilled attorneys at Padula & Associates, LLC know how important it is to defend your rights. Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of criminal defense in Washington State. We know how to advocate for our clients and to pinpoint the weaknesses in the Prosecution’s case. For more than 20 years, Padula & Associates, LLC has been serving the people of King County, Snohomish County, and Washington State with aggressive and effective criminal defense.

We answer our phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us 24/7 at 425-883-3366, email us at, or fill out our online free consultation form today.