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Anti-Stalking Statutes

NCJ Number
Crime Victims Report Volume: 2 Issue: 5 Dated: November/December 1998 Pages: 67-79
R Myers
Date Published
3 pages
This article reviews current anti-stalking laws and evaluates the need for new or expanded laws.
The first anti-stalking law was passed in 1990 in California. Since then, all 50 states have enacted anti-stalking laws. The US Congress enacted the first Federal stalking law in 1996. The article discusses several States' statutory protections, actions in response to first violation and subsequent violations, and notification statutes. It also examines mental health evaluations and treatment for stalkers, including court-ordered treatment or counseling. Anti-stalking laws reflect a legislative understanding that stalking is fundamentally different from other harassment crimes, and offer victims protection from behavior that was previously unregulated. However, anti-stalking laws can be improved by requiring mental health examinations for persons charged with stalking, and adding "victim-friendly" provisions such as victim notification, emergency assistance, protection orders, and awarding attorney fees and exemplary damages. In addition, laws should be developed to address the unique features of "cyberstalking" via computers.