Domestic violence is defined in Washington State to include any form of violence, words or actions that convey a threat, blocking, stalking and cyberstalking. This Legal Guide discusses the concept of stalking as a form of domestic violence. Other forms of DV are discussed in other Legal Guides.
Does the Domestic Violence Statute Include Stalking?
Yes. Stalking is included in the statutory definition of domestic violence. RCW 26.50.010 provides that "(1) "Domestic violence" means: ...(c) stalking as defined in RCW 9A.46.110 of one family or household member by another family or household member."
How Is Stalking Defined?
RCW 9A.46.110 provides that "(1) A person commits the crime of stalking if, without lawful authority and under circumstances not amounting to a felony attempt of another crime: (a) He or she intentionally and repeatedly harasses or repeatedly follows another person; and (b) The person being harassed or followed is placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure the person, another person, or property of the person or of another person. The feeling of fear must be one that a reasonable person in the same situation would experience under all the circumstances; and (c) The stalker either: (i) Intends to frighten, intimidate, or harass the person; or (ii) Knows or reasonably should know that the person is afraid, intimidated, or harassed even if the stalker did not intend to place the person in fear or intimidate or harass the person."
What Do the Appellate Cases Say About Stalking?
The case law on "stalking" in Washington is extensive. A brief review of these cases follows in the following sections of this Legal Guide. The cases are summarized below in chronological order, most recent cases first.
State v. Haines
State v. Haines, 151 Wn. App. 428 (Div. I Court of Appeals, 2009): The Court upheld Haines' conviction for stalking. Haines, who was unknown to the victim, Bezabih, entered the convenience store in which she was working, and repeatedly said that he wanted to "F . . . her"; said that he would get her into trouble because she was a "F . . . ing immigrant"; and at one point told her, "I'm gonna kill you." The police were called, but failed to find Haines. A little more than a month later Haines returned to the store and repeatedly made similar statements. Haines followed her to her residence, and stood there gazing at it.
State v. Becklin
State v. Becklin, 163 Wn.2d 519 (Supreme Court, 2008): Becklin and the victim, McGee, had a tumultuous romantic relationship over a number of years. During their relationship, Becklin threatened to kill McGee; insisted that she have an abortion; punched her in the stomach; and attempted to rape her. After their relationship terminated, McGee obtained a protection order prohibiting any contact, including contact through third parties. The Supreme Court affirmed Becklin's conviction based on testimony that he directed several friends to follow McGee, circle her house, follow her on errands, attempt to break into her house, and violated the protection order by following her home and driving near her home.
State v. Askham
State v. Askham, 120 Wn. App. 872 (Div. III Court of Appeals, 2004): Askham's romantic relationship with Melhart was terminated by Melhart. Melhart developed a romantic relationship with Schlatter. Askham later accessed Schlatter's computer where he worked at Washington State University, and placed pornographic and racist materials on his hard drive. Askham then anonymously called WSU, and reported that Schlatter was misusing state property (his computer at work) by accessing pornography and racist web sites. Askham's conviction for felony harassment, stalking, second degree theft, and criminal libel were affirmed on appeal.
State v. Zatkovich
State v. Zatkovich, 113 Wn. App. 701 (2002): Zatkovich's appeal after an exceptional sentence for stalking was affirmed. Zatkovich had appeared at Christy's house, cut the power lines, turned off the heat, menaced her at work, forced her off the road, hit her, extorted her, pulled wires out of her car engine, and threatened to cut her throat, and told her son that she was dead.
State v. Parmelee
State v. Parmelee, 108 Wn. App. 702 (2001): Parmelee's conviction for felony stalking was affirmed (the case was remanded for resentencing because his conviction for violation of a protection order should have been merged with the stalking conviction). Parmelee's wife, Turner, filed for divorce and obtained a protection order against Parmelee. After a trial, the Court entered a permanent protection order. Parmelee appealed. While the appeal was pending, Turner received two envelopes in the mail containing highly offensive printouts from a website that Parmelee had created. Shortly after his conviction for violating the protection order, Turner began receiving gross and threatening letters from prisoners in the federal detention center. At his trial for stalking, several inmates at the federal prison testified that Parmelee had contacted them, and asked them to write letters to Turner. He told them that she loved sex, liked ex-cons, and wanted parolees to come and live with her.
State v. Chance
State v. Chance, 105 Wn. App. 291 (Div. II 2001): The Court upheld an exceptional sentence for several offenses, including stalking. Chance was accused of stalking deputy prosecutor William Gilbert, who had successfully prosecuted Chance for burglary. Gilbert obtained a no contact order, but Chance continued to harass and intimidate him for several years. Chance threatened Gilbert's life to others. Eventually, Chance followed Gilbert, rammed Gilbert's car with his own car, chased him on foot, tackled him, and administered a beating that resulted in a fractured elbow and injuries to Gilbert's ribs, thumb and hip.
State v. Ainslie
State v. Ainslie, 103 Wn. App. 1 (2000): Ainslie's conviction for stalking was affirmed. JP, a 14 year old girl, testified at Ainslie's trial that Ainslie had sat in his car near her mailbox many times. Eventually, he drove his car to the other side of the street from where she was, got out, and stood behind it. JP ran to a nearby store. JP's father confronted Ainslie, and told him to stop following JP. Ainslie's car was subsequently seen again several times by the mailboxes, and later parked at a different location near her home about three times a week. The trial court found that Ainslie had regularly parked in front of the mailboxes to observe JP, and to be observed by her. He had been warned by her father to stop this behavior, and refused to do so. Ainslie admitted at trial that he had previously been informed by a police officer that his actions had caused JP alarm and fear.
State v. Lee
State v. Lee, 135 Wn.2d 369 (1998): The Supreme Court affirmed a Division I decision, which affirmed the convictions of Yates and Lee in this consolidated appeal. Yates physically abused and assaulted his girlfriend, Egan; he was released on bail. Yates was later seen observing Egan, calling her, and following her in his vehicle at least 13 times. Lee tried to draw Gross into a romantic relationship. He carved her name into his arm with a sharp object, followed her to work and her apartment, and contacted or followed her repeatedly despite her telling him several times to leave her alone.
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