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North Carolina Stalking Laws

Note: Any person in a dangerous emergency situation requiring immediate intervention should call 911 for assistance.

Definition of Stalking

In North Carolina, "stalking " is a specific offense in the penal code that also includes harassment. Stalking refers to a clear pattern of conduct through which the perpetrator causes the victim reasonable fear for their safety or their family's safety. It's a repetitive pattern of unwanted, harassing, or threatening behavior committed by one person against another.

Examples of stalking include:

  • Continuing to call you even though you have told them to stop
  • Repeatedly leaving or sending you obscene, harassing or threatening
    messages
  • Driving by your home, school or place of employment or intimidating you
  • Persistently leaving or sending unwanted letters, notes, cards or gifts
  • Watching you from a distance or following you
  • Appearing unexpectedly at places you frequent or don’t frequent “just
    by chance”
  • Contacting and/or threatening your friends, family members, neighbors
    or coworkers
  • Damaging of threatening to damage your home, car or other property

Definition of Cyberstalking

North Carolina has a law specifically dedicated to cyberstalking. Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet, email, or other electronic communications to stalk, and generally refers to a pattern of threatening or harmful malicious behaviors occurring online.

The following table highlights the main provisions of the North Carolina's stalking laws. See Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders for more information.

Code Sections

Stalking § 14-277.3A

Cyberstalking § 14-196.3

What is Prohibited?

Stalking: Willfully on more than one occasion follows or is in the presence of,
or otherwise harasses, another person without legal purpose and with the intent to do any of the following:

(1) Place that person in reasonable fear either for the person’s safety
or the safety of the person’s immediate family or close personal
associates.

(2) Cause that person to suffer substantial emotional distress by
placing that person in fear of death, bodily injury, or continued
harassment, and that in fact causes that person substantial
emotional distress.

Cyberstalking: Using the Internet, email, or other electronic communications to stalk, and generally referring to a pattern of threatening or malicious behaviors. This includes electronically communicating threats to damage property or injure another person, or the person's relative or dependent, with the intent of abusing, harassing, embarrassing, or extorting money or things of value.

It is also illegal to (1) electronically communicate any knowingly false statement regarding the death, injury, or illness of the person, or any member of the person's family, with the intent to abuse, harass, or embarrass or (2) allow an electronic device under the person's control to be used for any prohibited act under the cyberstalking law.

Penalties

Stalking: Class A1 misdemeanor. If court order in effect, Class H felony.

Cyberstalking: Class 2 misdemeanor

Penalty for Repeat Offenses: Felony (Repeat Offenders)

Penalties can also include probation, jail time, anger management classes, community service, fines, and restitution to the victim(s). Factors such as prior offenses or history of domestic violence help determine the severity of the punishment. Sentence may also include a restraining or protective order.

Resources

Because stalking laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney or your North Carolina legal aide provider if you have questions about your specific situation.

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