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NCJ Number
Vanderbilt Law Review Volume: 46 Issue: 4 Dated: (May 1993) Pages: 991-1029
R A Guy Jr
Date Published
39 pages
Although the proliferation of stalking laws reflects a new awareness that obsessive harassment warrants punishment with adequate penalties, some laws are too narrow to address all dangerous talking behavior and others are broad and susceptible to vagueness challenges.
Stalking behavior varies widely in both intensity and form. Some cases involve threatening and unceasing harassment, while other cases involve voluminous mailings of unsolicited love letters coupled with constant following. Most stalking victims are women, and studies predict that about 5 percent of women will be victims of stalking sometime in their lives. Stalkers do not seem to fit a general profile, but many appear to have a mental disorder. Some suffer from erotomania, a love obsession with a stranger who is usually of a higher class or is more successful than the stalker. Others harbor abandonment rage, a condition arising when the stalker is unable to process the pain of a broken relationship. Researchers estimate that about 200,000 people in the United States stalk someone each year and that this figure is rising. As the first law of its kind, California's stalking law has become a model for other States. This law criminalizes intentional obsessive harassment by someone who makes a credible threat. It has two actus reus elements, each with separate intent requirements. Significantly broader than California's statute, Florida's statute does not require a credible threat for a stalking conviction and defines stalking as willful, malicious, and repeated following or harassment. Connecticut's stalking law differs dramatically from laws in California and Florida in that it addresses only literal stalking behavior rather than obsessive harassment in general. Connecticut's law criminalizes willful and repeated following or lying in wait but does not cover miscellaneous, repeated, and intentional behavior that harms victims. Like Florida, Connecticut does not require a credible threat. The effects of stalking on victims are discussed, and the constitutionality of stalking laws is addressed in terms of vagueness challenges. A model stalking law is provided. 301 footnotes


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