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Philadelphia, PA 19102

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West Chester, PA 19380

215.665.1695

Stalking

The Philadelphia Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies will aggressively investigate all reports of stalking. In many of these cases, an arrest will be made based on highly circumstantial evidence or the word of the complaining witness. False accusations are common, particularly in domestic cases in which one person wants to gain an unfair advantage in an anticipated divorce or child custody battle. 

In many of these cases, the police will tell the complaining witness to file a petition for Petition for Protection From Abuse (PFA) or seek a Restraining Order (often called the "Stay Away" or "No Contact" order).

Stalking Defense Attorney in Philadelphia, PA

The attorneys at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC are also experienced in aggressively defending our clients at hearings on petitions for orders of protection. If you are charged with the criminal offense of stalking or cyberstalking, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC. We represent clients in cyberstalking or stalking throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding areas of Bucks County, Chester County, Montgomery County and Delaware County, PA.


Pennsylvania Stalking Information Center


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Stalking Charges Under Pennsylvania Law

Pennsylvania's Stalking law, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2709.1, took effect on February 7, 2003. Section 2709.1 defines two forms of stalking. Under 2709.1(a)(1), stalking requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the following elements:

  • a person engages in a course of conduct; or
  • repeatedly commits acts toward another person;
  • including following the person without proper authority;
  • under circumstances which demonstrate either;
    • an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury; or
    • to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person.

Under 2709.1(a)(2), stalking requires proof of the following elements:

  • a person engages in a course of conduct; or
  • repeatedly communicates to another person;
  • under circumstances which demonstrate or communicate either;
    • an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury; or
    • an intent to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person.

Under 2709.1(b) venue in a stalking case is proper in either the jurisdiction in which the communication was sent or the jurisdiction in which the communication was received.


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Stalking by Communication

The charge of stalking by communication alleges that a person engaged in a course of conduct or repeatedly communicated to another under circumstances which demonstrate or communicated either an intent to place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or an intent to cause substantial emotional distress to the person.


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Classification of Stalking under Pennsylvania Law

In most cases, a first offense of stalking is charged as a first degree misdemeanor. 

A second or subsequent offense of stalking is a felony of the third degree. A first offense of stalking can also be charged as a felony if the person has a prior conviction for a qualifying offense against the same person, family member or household member. Those qualifying offenses include: 

  • a violation of an protection order for relief issued under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108;
  • a violation of a protective order issued under section 4954;
  • involuntary deviate sexual intercourse under section 3123;
  • rape under section 3121;
  • kidnapping under section 2901;
  • recklessly endangering another person under section 2705;
  • aggravated assault under section 2702; or
  • simple assault under section 2701.

Under 2709.1(d), it is a violation of Section 4906 to make a false report of stalking to law enforcement authorities with the intent to implicate another for this offense.


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Definitions in the Stalking Statute

The stalking statute in Pennsylvania defines certain terms. The term “family or household member” is defined to include:

  • a husband or wife who are married to each other;
  • persons who have been spouses in the past but are now divorced;
  • persons living as spouses or who lived as spouses although never legally married;
  • parents and children;
  • other relatives related by consanguinity or affinity such as siblings;
  • current or former sexual or intimate partners (including a gay or lesbian couple); or
  • persons who share biological parenthood (who have a child in common).

The term “emotional distress” means a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.

The term “communicates” means to "convey a message without intent of legitimate communication or address." The communication can be oral, nonverbal, or written. It includes a telephone call or message. The communication would include all electronic communications such as  electronic mail, Internet, facsimile, telex, or wireless communication. 

The term “course of conduct” A pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of conduct. The term includes lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings, caricatures or actions, either in person or anonymously. Acts indicating a course of conduct which occur in more than one jurisdiction may be used by any other jurisdiction in which an act occurred as evidence of a continuing pattern of conduct or a course of conduct.


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A Stalking Arrest by the Philadelphia Police Department

The City of Philadelphia Police Department recently published a Citizen Information Bulletin #7. The bulletin by the Philadelpia Police Department on stalking provides examples of conduct that might constitute stalking, including:

  • making repeated slanderous statements or false reports concerning the victim to the victim’s work, police or judicial authorities;
  • violations of a Protection From Abuse (PFA);
  • violations of a Protection Order or Restraining Order (often called the "Stay Away" or "No Contact" Order);
  • harassing or threatening the victim by use of computers or the Internet (often called cyberstalking);
  • threatening the victim which can include an direct threat, veiled threat, or conditional threat;
  • mailing unsolicited e-mails, gifts, cards, or letters;
  • repeated harassing, threatening, or obscene telephone calls to the victim;
  • committing a trespass or burglary at the victim's home;
  • spying or monitoring of the victim’s activities;
  • showing up at the victim’s place of employment or other frequented establishments;
  • following the victim on foot or in a vehicle;
  • vandalism affecting the security of the victim’s home, such as unscrewing outside lights or disabling the alarm system;
  • vandalism to the property, etc., of any friend or family member who helps the victim, especially by allowing the victim to stay at their home;
  • vandalizing or theft of the victim’s property, home, vehicle, workplace;
  • disabling the victim’s vehicle;
  • delivering objects to the victim intended to cause fear to that victim.
  • filing “change of address” forms at the Post Office under the victim’s name in order to “intercept” the victim’s mail.
  • transferring the victim’s phone line to another line in order to monitor messages, or disabling the phone or planting listening devices in the victim’s home.

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Finding a Pennsylvania Attorney for Stalking Charges

If you are charged with stalking, cyberstalking or harrassment, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC. We understand the serious nature of charges related to stalking or domestic violence. Call us at (215) 665-1695 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case in Philadelpia or the surrounding areas of Bucks County, Chester County, Montgomery County and Delaware County, PA.