Archive for June, 2010

“I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

June 29th, 2010

If you know where that line comes from, you can probably relate to the frisson that someone feels upon learning that someone has been watching or monitoring them without their knowledge.  In the 80’s, the band Rockwell sang, “I always feel like somebody’s watching me.”  In a word, it’s creepy.

Stalking Is a Crime

Actual stalking is very serious, and is considered a breach of the peace.  North Carolina’s stalking law is G.S. 14-277.3A.  (Cyberstalking is a separate offense, but cyberstalking “adds to” any stalking charges.)

It is important to understand that stalking is behavior that goes beyond “annoying.”  When someone is annoying, you ask them to stop doing what annoys you.  If they do not, you ask them to cease contacting you, preferably in writing, so you have a record.  Keep in mind that the contact must be for “no legitimate purpose,” so “stalking” does not include your ex calling you about visitation or child support (those are legitimate purposes); refusing contact when there is a legitimate reason has risks.

Stalking requires that the person makes two or more acts AFTER knowing that you do not want contact.

Whenever someone starts to behave in a way that suggests stalking, keep a log or journal, and keep copies of the communication; this is evidence the District Attorney would need to prosecute the charge.  When you give notice that the contact is unwelcome, take every reasonable effort to block contact (“unfriend” them on social sites, etc.)  Changing your phone number is NOT a reasonable expectation because it is very disruptive; you should be able to deal with the problem BEFORE it becomes that bad.

Do NOT Aggravate the Problem

It is also VERY IMPORTANT that you 1) DO NOT RESPOND; 2) DO NOT send messages, warnings, or threats directly or through a third-person, unless it’s an attorney or a peace officer; and 3) DO NOT start a “campaign” against them with third-parties.  (If you are not careful, you could set yourself up for counterclaims of Libel, Slander, Communicating Threats, or even Assault.)

If the behavior persists, you should 1) contact the police, 2) file a complaint with the magistrate, or 3) contact an attorney.

There is no need to live in fear or apprehension.