Stalking in Virginia (Va. Code §18.2-60.3) is intentionally engaging in conduct that places another person in fear of death, criminal sexual activity or bodily injury.
To convict an offender of stalking in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-60.3, the Commonwealth must prove that the offender engaged in conduct, at least twice, directed against another person, with the intent to place that person or a member of his family in fear of death, criminal sexual activity, or bodily injury.
- Engaged in Conduct: Following another person, waiting at a person’s home or work, making threatening or obscene phone calls, or unwanted contact online or through social media are all examples of conduct that can be the basis for a charge of stalking in Virginia.
- At Least Twice: To convict an offender of stalking in Virginia, the offender must have intentionally engaged in conduct with intent to place the victim in fear of death, sexual assault or bodily harm on at least two separate occasions.
- Intent to Place in Fear: The intent required to convict an offender of stalking in Virginia is intent to place the victim in fear or knowledge the conduct will cause fear. The offender can also be convicted if he should have known that his conduct will cause fear. Fear refers to reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual activity, or bodily injury. The type of fear caused does not need to be the same each time to be convicted of stalking in Virginia.
- Person: The conduct intended to cause fear must be directed at another person. The other person can be the intended victim or it can be directed at a family or household member of the intended victim. “Family or household member” is defined in Va. Code §16.1-228 to include:
- the person’s spouse
- the person’s former spouse
- the person’s parents, stepparents, children, stepchildren, brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters, grandparents and grandchildren
- the person’s mother-in-law, father-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law who reside in the same home with the person
- any individual who has a child in common with the person
- any individual who cohabits or who, within the previous 12 months, cohabited with the person, and any children of either of them then residing in the same home with the person.
Courts can issue protective orders against an offender accused or convicted of stalking in Virginia. The protective order prohibits contact between the offender and the victim or a victim’s family member. It also prohibits the offender from threatening or being violent toward the victim or the victim’s family. Violation of any of the stalking protective orders can be a Class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to Va. Code §18.2-60.4, but it can also be charged as contempt of court or an additional criminal charge if the violation is also a crime.
- Emergency Protective Orders (Va. Code §19.2-152.8): The court can issue an emergency protective order against the accused stalker pursuant to §19.2-152.8 prohibiting contact with the alleged victim or a family member. The offender does not need to be present to have the protective order issued. If an offender violates the emergency protective order after being served, he can be held in contempt of court. Emergency protective orders issued in response to a charge of stalking in Virginia are valid for 3 days.
- Stalking Preliminary Preliminary Protective Order (Va. Code §19.2-152.9): If an offender is convicted of stalking in Virginia, a preliminary protective order will be issued against the stalker prohibiting contact with the victim or his family. This order is valid for 15 days. Violation of this protective order can be an additional, new criminal charge.
- Stalking Protective Orders (Va. Code §19.2-152.10): The court can issue a protective order prohibiting contact between the offender and victim or his family at a hearing held within 15 days of the issuance of the preliminary protective order. This protective order can be issued for any period of time up to two years. The victim can also file for an extension of the protective order for an additional two years.
Penalty for Stalking in Virginia
Stalking in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-60.3 is a Class 1 misdemeanor. It is punished with up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $2500, and an order prohibiting contact between the offender and the victim or his or her spouse or child. A violation of the no-contact order under Va. Code §18.2-60.3(D) is contempt. A second or subsequent conviction within 5 years is a Class 6 felony, punished with up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $2500.
Violations of protective orders issued in relation to charges of stalking in Virginia can be contempt of court, new criminal charges, or separate Class 1 misdemeanor charges of violation of a protective order. For information on the penalties for violation of a protective order in Virginia, click here.
Virginia Stalking Statute
§18.2-60.3. Stalking; penalty.