Have you been served with Anti-Stalking Order in the District of Columbia? Now you are asking yourself what is Stalking. Anti-Stalking Orders allow individuals to petition the court for an order against another person who has allegedly stalked that person, with at least one occasion of the course of conduct occurring within the 90 days prior to the date of petitioning. So what is Stalking?
A defendant or Respondent (civil or anti-stalking protection orders) cannot be found guilty for stalking unless there is proof that he or she possessed a culpable mental state (an intentional, knowing, or “should have known” mental state) during at least two of the occurrences that comprise the course of conduct. In other words, the Petitioner or Government must prove that the person “should have known” during at least two of the occurrences that comprised the course of conduct that this conduct would produce such mental harm. As stated in Coleman v. United States 202 A.3d 1127 (D.C. 2019)
For purposes of the Stalking Statute in the District of Columbia “Should have known” as an objective standard. Objective Standard is essentially how a reasonable person would feel. The Judge or Jury should view the circumstances from the standpoint of a reasonable person. It doesn’t matter what your intention was as long as most people would think that the conduct is stalking. As opposed to a Subjective Standard which focuses on the state of mind of the person who committed the act; the act may be permissible or impermissible, depending on what the actor was thinking. In other words a subjective standard looks to the persona as opposed to a reasonable person.
The Court will look to whether a reasonable person would feel that the course of conduct would cause someone to be alarmed by the conduct.
On two or more occasions to follow, monitor, place under surveillance, threaten or communicate to or about another individual with the intent to cause that individual to experience fear, serious alarm, or emotional distress.
Fear for his or her safety means fear of significant injury or comparable harm. Fear for his or her safety is meant to prohibit seriously troubling conduct. It does not mean mere unpleasant or mildly worrying encounters.
As defined in DC Code § 22–3132(4), emotional distress means “significant mental suffering or distress that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.” It is the kind of emotional distress that would possibly lead a person to seek professional treatment from a therapist or someone like that.
Feel seriously alarmed means conduct that is basically disturbing. It is not conduct that is just a serious annoyance. The Court has held that it is greater than just a”uneasiness, nervousness, [and] unhappiness” are insufficient”. “[T]he stalking conduct needs to address behavior that goes beyond merely annoying the victim ….”)” Coleman v. United States, 202 A.3d 1127, 1145 (D.C. 2019)