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Violent Crime: Crime Against a Person


Stalking is a behavior defined as repeated, unwanted physical closeness or communication from a person that leaves the victim feeling threatened. Often the stalker or offender makes verbal or written threats to the victim.

Media personalities such as singer Madonna (1958–), director Steven Spielberg (1946–), and actress Gwyneth Paltrow (1972–) are well-known victims of stalking, but most victims are not celebrities and are acquainted with their stalkers. The majority of stalkers are men, but some women stalk as well. Women victims are often stalked by former boyfriends or spouses. Stalkers generally become obsessed with their victims, seeking power over them and their lives through frightening incidents and many stalkers believe they have a relationship with their victims (though it is usually imaginary). Stalkers are sometimes motivated by revenge or by rejection. The Internet has made it very easy for stalkers to get information about victims, so they can send threatening emails as well.

By the 1990s states began to realize stalkers were dangerous criminals who often end up doing harm to or even killing their victims. California law classifies stalking as a felony (serious crime) with punishment of up to five years in prison.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawViolent Crime: Crime Against a Person - Crimes Against Individuals, Hate Crime, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Forcible Rape, Stalking, "three Strikes" Laws