Menacing by Stalking
Ohio law states "No person, by engaging in a pattern of conduct, shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to the other person."
"Pattern of conduct" means 2 or more actions or incidents closely related in time whether or not there has been a prior conviction based on any of those actions or incidents. "Mental distress" means any mental illness or condition that involves some temporary substantial incapacity or mental illness or condition that would normally require psychiatric treatment.
A violation of Menacing by Stalking is a misdemeanor of the first degree in which the maximum penalty is up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. A second or subsequent offense is a felony of the fifth degree, with a sentence of up to 5 years in prison and up to a $2,500 fine.
Actions to Take Against the Stalker
- Document everything. Include date, time and a description of the incident, names of witnesses, and any action taken by you. Even though a single incident alone may not be serious, the documentation will show a pattern of behavior that may happen later on.
- Talk to witnesses to determine whether they will testify in court if necessary.
- Notify law enforcement of each incident. Keep police informed even if the stalker’s action is not illegal. When you report each incident, tell the police to log your call. This may serve as important documentation later.
- Explore the legal remedies available in your state. Most states have anti-stalking laws. If your state has such a law, find an attorney who is familiar with it and who is sympathetic to your situation.
- Have your attorney send a registered letter telling the stalker he or she must stop the behavior immediately, and that you are working closely with the police to secure his arrest if he continues to stalk you.
- Approach local newspaper, magazine, and broadcast media who have public service features or public advocacy programs. You can remain anonymous for purposes of safety, but still raise public awareness.
- Talk to local politicians. Ask for their support in getting the police to intervene. Tell them you are working with the media.
- Get a protection order if the stalker trespasses on your property.
- Inform all of your neighbors, coworkers, and the receptionist and security staff where you live or work. Prepare them for the possibility that the stalker may look for you there, and ask them to support you. Do the same with the key people in the organizations to which you belong. The moment that the stalker shows up in a work or social setting is not the time to explain the situation. All too often the stalker will adopt his or her most friendly demeanor, therefore discrediting the victim.
- Give a photograph or description of the stalker, if you have one, to anyone who might ever see him.
- Write down the license number and the description of the stalker’s vehicle. Give this to your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and police.
- Keep a camera handy, so if the stalker comes near you, you can take a picture which would serve as proof that he was in your vicinity.
- Consider purchasing or renting a surveillance camera. These can be strategically placed inside your home or apartment to film the areas around your doors and car, where stalkers are likely to leave gifts or letters. A filmed record of activities will help with legal action.
- If you are thinking of buying a gun, weigh your decisions carefully in view of these cautions:
- An intruder may use it against you
- Most people hesitate to shoot an intruder
- There is potential for a tragic accident with a gun in the home, particularly if there are children present
- Carry a mace canister or a small air horn. In many cases, these have proven more effective against assailants than a gun.
- Consider getting a cellular phone if your stalker typically follows you while you are driving. These are especially important if your job requires you to drive alone at night.
- Consider installing a home security alarm system.