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Stalking 101: What Constitutes Stalking and What to Do

May 8, 2021Blog, Legal Tips

Each state has its definition of what it means to stalk someone. Stalking can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the situation, the Nevada Legislature has made stalking a felony under certain circumstances. The state statute covering the crime of stalking is NRS 200.575 and includes aggravated stalking and harassment. Nevada’s legislation defines stalking as the following:

“A person who, without lawful authority, willfully or maliciously engages in a course of conduct directed towards a victim that would cause a reasonable person under similar circumstances to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, harassed or fearful for his or her immediate safety or the immediate safety of a family or household member, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, harassed or fearful for his or her immediate safety or the immediate safety of a family or household member, commits the crime of stalking.”

Any person charged as such can be convicted of a misdemeanor for their first offense and a gross misdemeanor for the second offense. If that individual is arrested for stalking a third time or subsequently thereafter, it becomes a category C felony. If found guilty of felonious stalking, a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year in state prison is the punishment and up to a $5,000 fine. However, depending on mitigating circumstances, a felonious stalking conviction can result in a maximum sentence of up to 5 years.

A Quick List of Statistics Concerning Stalking In the U.S.

We’ve all heard crazy stalker stories, whether in the media, in true crime shows, or even from a friend or family member. But many people don’t realize how prevalent it is or how potentially dangerous it can be for victims. Here is a quick list of historical statistics to give you an idea of how serious stalking is.

  • Far more women have reported being victims of stalking than men. According to the CDC, 1 out of 6 women has reported stalking compared to 1 out of 16 men.
  • The age demographic with the highest rate of stalking is between 18 and 24 years old.
  • Around 54% of people who reported being stalked to the police were eventually murdered by their stalker.
  • Approximately 50% of stalking victims reported experiencing at least 1 unwanted contact per week; 11% of them reported having been stalked for 5 or more years.
  • 25% of stalking victims knew their stalker.
  • Over 50% of stalking victims lost time from work because of it.
  • Stalking is most often reported right after a break-up, divorce, or child custody battle.
  • In 2017, The Guardian reported that stalking behavior was identified in 94% of murder cases.

Why Stalking Should Be Taken Seriously: Understanding the Obsessed Mind

No obsession is healthy for the human psyche—whether legal or otherwise. When individuals become obsessed with another, it can turn deadly for the object of that obsession. This is because having an obsession with someone potentially leads to the obsession developing into unhealthy fantasies. Those fantasies often mutate into irresistible urges for offenders—looking at you from a distance is no longer enough.

Forensic psychiatrist Brook Zitek told WebMD, that one should consider stalking ” … repeated boxes of candy, clothing, showing up at your house, putting things through your mail slot, notes on your car — even though you’ve asked them to stop.” Of course, it could also be continuous Facebook or Twitter messages. This type of offender is an intimacy-seeking stalker; they either believe the victim loves them, will eventually love them, or has an obligation to love them. While it can happen to anyone belonging to any demographic or economic status, statistics show such behavior is often directed towards a victim of a higher social status, who is famous, or popular.

Unlike someone who is merely an overzealous pursuer, a stalker believes that you belong with them. Depending on whether offenders are mentally unstable and the severity, offenders can have delusions that make them believe they’re in a relationship with their victim. The resentful stalker usually suffers from a personality disorder such as narcissistic personality disorder and/or sociopathic personality disorder. They often feel they’ve been slighted by the victim, deserve to be recognized, and are self-pitying and self-righteous.

Resentful stalkers usually seek to cause fear and upend the victim’s life, but rarely act on any threats they make.

Both the rejected stalker and predatory stalker are probably the most dangerous. The rejected stalker often feels they’ve been insulted or had their ego bruised if broken up with or their advances turned down. Mentally and physically abusive partners have a tendency to become these kinds of stalkers. Even gentle rejections can be perceived as an insult to certain offenders. A predator is a person who may be a sadist and gets pleasure from causing others distress. Most famous serial murderers stalked their victims.

What You Should Do If You’re Being Stalked By Someone

Unpredictability is what makes stalkers dangerous. Sometimes an offender shows little to no signs of being dangerous. For example, a co-worker whom you get along with and might even hang out with outside of work. They may or may not have made romantic advances in the past, but show no outward signs of an unhealthy obsession either way. Unbeknownst to you, they could have been stalking you for days, weeks, months, or even years without you ever being the wiser. Or could be someone you’ve never seen or met—a person obsessing over you from a distance. If they’re savvy enough, they can remain undetected until it’s too late. This holds especially true in the Digital Age with cyberstalking becoming more prevalent.

How to protect yourself against such predators?

Whether you live alone or with others, the first course of action is to get a decent security alarm. Guard yourself by preventing someone from sneaking into your house whether you’re home or not. Secondly, invest in a cloud-based video surveillance system that allows you to monitor your residence remotely on your mobile device. The types of residential CCTV systems offer options like motion sensors, alerting you of someone moving about in your home. You can then log onto the service provider’s website with an account and view the camera in real-time. CCTV can be your biggest defense against stalkers. Even doorbell cameras have alerted homeowners to nefarious going-on around their homes.

There are plenty of non-lethal self-defense options out there as well. For instance, pepper spray (also known by law enforcement as OC spray) can be effective. However, be sure to purchase an OC spray that is suggested by law enforcement. Civilian tasers are also a great option since they allow you to zap an offender from a distance of about 10 feet. If you’re allowed to own a firearm, you might consider buying a handgun if you really feel the stalker intends on doing you or someone you love harm.

Of course, it helps to take a few self-defense classes so that you can use your self-defense tools effectively.

Make it a habit of being more aware of your surroundings when out-and-about on the town, going to work, working in the yard, and elsewhere. If you’re receiving weird phone calls, use a reverse phone number lookup website to see what you can find out about the caller. It might be a good idea to change your phone number if it starts happening too often.

What You Should Do If You Know Who the Offender Is

If you know or discover the identity of your stalker, report them to authorities immediately. You should also contact the Nevada courts for a protection order. You can also obtain contact information for various support groups for talking victims. Whatever you do, never ignore signs of being stalked. The biggest mistake anyone can make is to ignore them, hoping they will eventually go away. Refrain from engaging them in any way whatsoever. It’s nearly impossible to reason with an obsessed individual, especially someone who has escalated their obsession to stalking. Plus, you don’t want to escalate things further by saying something enrages the offender.

If you are being stalked, call or visit the nearest police station right away to file for a protection order. For any other matters, such as questions or comments, please contact us today. We’d love to hear from our community!