Stalking is generally defined as knowingly alarming or coercing another person or member of that person’s immediate family or household, by engaging in repeated and unwanted contact with that other person. There is no qualifying relationship required for stalking as with restraining orders, so if a neighbor, acquaintance or stranger is repeatedly bothering a person, recourse may be available through a stalking order. Stalking behavior can also be traced back as far as two years, because stalking activity can appear to subside and then re-appear after a few months or longer.
Stalking criteria includes having 2 or more unwanted contacts by another party, where the complainant/petitioner has specifically told the other party to stop contacting them. It is very important that the complainant/petitioner have made at least 2 attempts to tell the other party to stop contacting them. In addition, there has to be a level of fear by the complainant/petitioner where it is objectively reasonable for another person in the victim’s same situation to have felt alarmed or coerced by this continued, unwanted contact.
It is also possible for a minor to file for a stalking order against another minor, which is done through the minor complainant/petitioner’s parent or guardian.
Since February 2007 Domestic Violence Resource Center’s Protective Order Advocacy Program has offered advocacy to victims of stalking and harassment. Stalking and harassment victims in Washington County must go through law enforcement as their first line of contact when applying for assistance in these matters. Our office helps victims process their thoughts and documentation before and/or after making contact with the police. In addition, our office helps victims prepare for court, as well as accompanies stalking victims to civil court proceedings as requested. We also partner with the Center for Victims’ Services in referring stalking victims for counseling and other possible assistance when necessary.
Oregon is one of 12 states that addresses stalking both in a civil and criminal matter. Our agency assists civil stalking victims, while the DA’s Victim Assistance Program helps victims whose cases include criminal prosecution (this decision is made by the DA’s Office and is separate from civil stalking cases). If there is enough probable cause to assess that a person is being stalked, the police can issue the alleged stalker a civil stalking citation. If you are in danger, call 911. Upon receipt of this citation, a court date will be set within three business days of the issuance of the stalking citation, whereby both the alleged stalker and the complainant must appear in court. If the alleged stalker does not appear, a warrant will be issued for his/her arrest. If the complainant/petitioner does not appear in court, the case will be dismissed. If there is enough probable cause to assess that a person is being stalked, but there is no immediate danger, a person can fill out a stalking order petition through our services. Please refer to our Protective Order Advocacy Program page for more information.
If stalking is proven in court, the Judge will issue a stalking order of unlimited duration, which essentially lasts a lifetime. Stalking orders are extremely difficult to dismiss, and very rarely done. It is important to note that civil and criminal stalking matters are handled separately and one does not affect the outcome of the other. If the DA decides not to proceed criminally with a stalking case, this does not mean a civil stalking order will not be implemented.
Stalking victims may recover specific/general fees and damages such as lost wages through a civil stalking protective order in the form of a civil lawsuit. In order to obtain any type of damages or fees, a person must hire a civil attorney who is familiar with this type of proceeding. Please note that any claims for damages or fee recovery may NOT be done through the officer citation process or through the criminal case.
In addition to monetary recovery, the stalking protective order also protects the victim from any contact with themselves or their household members. Stalking protective orders do NOT award custody or parenting issues.
The violation of a civil stalking protective order would lead to an arrest of the respondent and jail time. The first violation of a stalking order would result in a Class A Misdemeanor charge; the second violation would result in a Class C Felony. Stalking matters are taken very seriously by the judicial system.
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