Civil Harassment and Stalking Definitions

This article defines and discusses Civil Harassment and Stalking. Civil harassment is similar to domestic violence, except that the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim are not intimate or as close as that defined in the domestic violence statutes. Persons in this category include friends, neighbors, work-acquaintances, non-romantic roommates, uncles, aunts, nephew, nieces, or cousins. At Brown & Charbonneau, LLP our attorneys have obtained civil protective orders, and collected damages on behalf of clients who were threatened and harassed by strangers, “friends” and distant family members. Contact our office at 714-505-3000. We are ready to help you.

In civil harassment, “harassment” is defined as14131405424_699f5b8073_m

  • a “course of conduct” – a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose, including stalking, making harassing phone calls, sending harassing correspondence by private or public mail, email, fax, text, or other means of communication.
  • “credible threat of violence” — a knowing statement or course of conduct that would place a reasonable person in fear for his or her safety or safety of his or her immediate family and that serves no legitimate purpose.
  • “harassment” — is unlawful violence, a credible threat of violence, or a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys or harasses the person and that serves no legitimate purpose. The conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the person seeking court protection. (CCP 527.6 (b)).


California stalking laws are defined in Penal Code 646.9 as:

  • following,
  • harassing and/or
  • threatening

another person to the point where that individual fears for his/her safety or the safety of his/her family.

Behaviors that might lead to California stalking charges include but are not limited to:
  • Receipt of unwanted communication whether via phone, email
  • Spreading any false rumors about the victim
  • Following or conducting surveillance

The penalties for stalking in California when certain special circumstances (like a prior stalking conviction) apply, it can be a  felony charge, which can include up to five (5) years in state prison and may require the perpetrator to register as a sex offender .

In civil harassment cases, a lawyer can help you file a lawsuit for damages as a result of the harassment and help you obtain retraining orders, which will order the perpetrator stop contacting you, to stay a certain distance away from you, and to stop all contact with you family members if included in the original request.

If you need assistance with Civil Harassment and Stalking or any area of the law in California, contact the experts at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP for a consultation: 714-505-3000