Under Virginia law, stalking can be considered domestic violence or family abuse. This is only true if the victim of the stalking fits a specific definition that, for the purposes of this article, is a member of the accused’s family or household (including former roommates from up to a year past).
Virginia’s Family Abuse Law
Virginia law specifically names stalking as a family abuse crime if the victim meets the above general definition.
Virginia’s Definition of Stalking
Virginia has a very broad definition of stalking under the law. You can be charged with stalking if you engage in conduct directed at another person on more than one occasion with the intent to place, or with the knowledge that the conduct places that other person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury. This applies to that person’s family or household members, as well.
This expansive definition leaves a great deal to the subjective state of mind of the accuser. Imagine this scenario, then. You shared an apartment with Joe. About six months ago, Joe asked you to leave as he couldn’t stand the way you kept house. This made you angry for a number of reasons, especially since you found the apartment to begin with. Two days later, you come back to get the last of your things and you find Bob, moving into your old room. You stew about this for a couple of days and you go and meet Joe at his work. You get angry and say you would really like to beat up Bob. A couple of days later, you swing by his work again and say the same thing pretty convincingly. One could make the argument, under Virginia’s definition, that telling your old roommate this twice could get you charged with stalking.
While the courts don’t necessarily subscribe to allowing stalking prosecutions for the above-referenced set of facts, it is possible under the law. This is illustrated only to show that there is huge subjective portion to the law. This case would also qualify as family abuse insomuch as the person you “stalked” was an ex-roommate with whom you lived in the last year. The implication of this is large: You can be charged with two separate Class One misdemeanors now, instead of one. You could be facing up to one year in jail for each of the charges as well as two fines of up to $2500 each, all because you spouted off a couple of times about the guy you feel stole your apartment.
While the above example might be a stretch of what can cause you to be charged with stalking in Northern Virginia, it is used to illustrate a point. The standards used to make a charge are incredibly subjective. You need an experienced attorney to help you sort out the law and the facts if you are charged with stalking, family abuse, or both. Jad Sarsour has helped dozens of clients face down stalking charges. You face serious repercussions if you are convicted. Give Jad a call today at (571) 316-2639 to begin building your defense and start protecting your rights.