Understanding harassment & stalking in Washington state-Under Law

Washington State Law Stalking Harassment Telephone harassment

This page lists the most applicable state crimes addressing stalking. However, depending on the facts of the case, a stalker might also be charged with other crimes, such as trespassing, intimidation of a witness, breaking and entering, etc. Check your state code or consult with your local prosecutor about other charges that might apply in a particular case.

Stalking
Rev. Code Wash. § 9A.46.110. Stalking.

(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.

(2) (a) It is not a defense to the crime of stalking under subsection (1)(c)(i) of this section that the stalker was not given actual notice that the person did not want the stalker to contact or follow the person; and

(b) It is not a defense to the crime of stalking under subsection (1)(c)(ii) of this section that the stalker did not intend to frighten, intimidate, or harass the person.

(3) It shall be a defense to the crime of stalking that the defendant is a licensed private investigator acting within the capacity of his or her license as provided by chapter 18.165 RCW.

(4) Attempts to contact or follow the person after being given actual notice that the person does not want to be contacted or followed constitutes prima facie evidence that the stalker intends to intimidate or harass the person. “Contact” includes, in addition to any other form of contact or communication, the sending of an electronic communication to the person.

(5) A person who stalks another person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor except that the person is guilty of a class C felony if any of the following applies: (a) The stalker has previously been convicted in this state or any other state of any crime of harassment, as defined in RCW 9A.46.060, of the same victim or members of the victim’s family or household or any person specifically named in a protective order; (b) the stalking violates any protective order protecting the person being stalked; (c) the stalker has previously been convicted of a gross misdemeanor or felony stalking offense under this section for stalking another person; (d) the stalker was armed with a deadly weapon, as defined in *RCW 9.94A.602, while stalking the person; (e) the stalker’s victim is or was a law enforcement officer, judge, juror, attorney, victim advocate, legislator, or community correction’s officer, and the stalker stalked the victim to retaliate against the victim for an act the victim performed during the course of official duties or to influence the victim’s performance of official duties; or (f) the stalker’s victim is a current, former, or prospective witness in an adjudicative proceeding, and the stalker stalked the victim to retaliate against the victim as a result of the victim’s testimony or potential testimony.

(6) As used in this section:

(a) “Follows” means deliberately maintaining visual or physical proximity to a specific person over a period of time. A finding that the alleged stalker repeatedly and deliberately appears at the person’s home, school, place of employment, business, or any other location to maintain visual or physical proximity to the person is sufficient to find that the alleged stalker follows the person. It is not necessary to establish that the alleged stalker follows the person while in transit from one location to another.

(b) “Harasses” means unlawful harassment as defined in RCW 10.14.020.

(c) “Protective order” means any temporary or permanent court order prohibiting or limiting violence against, harassment of, contact or communication with, or physical proximity to another person.

(d) “Repeatedly” means on two or more separate occasions.

Harassment
Rev. Code Wash. § 9A.46.020. Definition — Penalties.

(1) A person is guilty of harassment if:

(a) Without lawful authority, the person knowingly threatens:

(i) To cause bodily injury immediately or in the future to the person threatened or to any other person; or

(ii) To cause physical damage to the property of a person other than the actor; or

(iii) To subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint; or

(iv) Maliciously to do any other act which is intended to substantially harm the person threatened or another with respect to his or her physical or mental health or safety; and

(b) The person by words or conduct places the person threatened in reasonable fear that the threat will be carried out. “Words or conduct” includes, in addition to any other form of communication or conduct, the sending of an electronic communication.

(2) A person who harasses another is guilty of a gross misdemeanor punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW, except that the person is guilty of a class C felony if either of the following applies: (a) The person has previously been convicted in this or any other state of any crime of harassment, as defined in RCW 9A.46.060, of the same victim or members of the victim’s family or household or any person specifically named in a no-contact or no-harassment order; or (b) the person harasses another person under subsection (1)(a)(i) of this section by threatening to kill the person threatened or any other person.

(3) The penalties provided in this section for harassment do not preclude the victim from seeking any other remedy otherwise available under law.

Telephone Harassment
Rev. Code Wash. § 9.61.230. Telephone harassment.

Every person who, with intent to harass, intimidate, torment or embarrass any other person, shall make a telephone call to such other person:

(1) Using any lewd, lascivious, profane, indecent, or obscene words or language, or suggesting the commission of any lewd or lascivious act; or

(2) Anonymously or repeatedly or at an extremely inconvenient hour, whether or not conversation ensues; or

(3) Threatening to inflict injury on the person or property of the person called or any member of his or her family or household;

shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor, except that the person is guilty of a class C felony if either of the following applies:

(a) That person has previously been convicted of any crime of harassment, as defined in RCW 9A.46.060, with the same victim or member of the victim’s family or household or any person specifically named in a no-contact or no-harassment order in this or any other state; or

(b) That person harasses another person under subsection (3) of this section by threatening to kill the person threatened or any other person.

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