Depending on the relationship between the individual stalking (defendant) and the complaining witness (victim), a stalking case will be heard in either the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court (“JDR”) between family or household members, or in the General District Court (“GDC”) between all other types of relationships.
Virginia law defines stalking as any individual who engages in a course of conduct, on more than one occasion, directed at another person or that person’s family members, with the intent to place said person in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury. Such conduct may be in person or by mail, telephone, or any “electronically transmitted communication” such as social media, and is especially troublesome, although not necessary, if the defendant was given notice to stop all contact or behavior prior to engaging in or continuing said conduct. Any first offense may be punishable as a Class-1 misdemeanor.
Virginia further recognizes the severe impact stalking behavior can do to a person’s mental, physical, and even financial wellbeing by enacting a number of escalated punishments and related causes of action. First, by increasing the punishment to a Class-6 felony for any second conviction within five years. Second, by allowing any defendant to be charged in Virginia if the conduct occurred within the Commonwealth at least once (and the second occurred out of state), and/or if the victim lives in Virginia at the time of said conduct, meaning the defendant may be charged even if they live out-of-state. Third, any stalking conviction is followed by a mandatory entry of a Protective (restraining) Order in favor of the victim for up to two years, which may carry additional and independent punishments if violated. Fourthly, a stalking victim may carry on a private and independent civil action for monetary damages (compensatory and punitive) against a defendant even if the defendant is never charged or convicted with criminal stalking.
Understanding the law, consequences, and potential defenses is crucial for those who find themselves facing stalking charges. Additionally, victims of stalking conduct deserve peace of mind and a clear understanding of their rights and protections. Our experienced team of attorneys are well-versed in the intricacies of stalking laws in Virginia and dedicated to exploring your rights and helping you navigate the complicated legal process with compassion and expertise. Protect your rights, preserving your reputation, and helping you achieve the best possible outcome are our only priority. Contact Kublan Khan today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.