Stalking Versus Harassment
Harassment is a series of repeated unwanted contact. Someone can harass you by being annoying, mean, and obnoxious or by just being a “jerk”, but if the harassment doesn’t make you “afraid”, then it is not considered “stalking”. A good example of this is street harassment, you may feel annoyed at being cat called but it probably doesn’t make you afraid. So STALKING IS HARASSMENT, but that doesn’t mean harassment is “stalking”. Harassment, however can turn into stalking if and / or when the actions become extreme.
Iowa Harassment Laws
Harassment is a slightly less serious charge than stalking. If there is probable cause to believe that the following are done with the intent to alarm, annoy, or intimidate: Communicate via phone, email, or other methods likely to cause annoyance, Place a simulated explosive device where it will likely affect another person, Orders merchandise or services in another person’s name to be delivered to that person without their knowledge, Report false information to law enforcement, implicating someone in a crime knowing that information to be false.
Iowa Stalking Laws
Under Iowa law stalking is considered an assault crime. You may be a victim of stalking if someone has done all of the following: Engaged in a course of conduct directed at someone that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or death of that person or a member of their family, Engaged in this action having known or should have known that the person would be placed in reasonable fear, and The action actually induces such fear in the targeted person.
What are the penalties for Stalking?
There are a variety of penalties for stalking depending on the classification. A first offense stalking charge is typically classified as an aggravated misdemeanor. However, there are certain situations where the stalking charge is elevated to a felony. In certain situations involving a weapon or a victim under the age of 18, stalking can be charged as a Class D felony, even for a first offense. A second stalking charge is also usually a Class D felony. A third or subsequent stalking offense, you will be charged with a Class C felony.
8 Signs you may be being stalked:
There are many “red flags” you should watch for if you think that someone may be watching you / monitoring you:
- Phone calls from strange numbers – this can often be contributed to Skype or Google Voice. The intention of these calls may be simply to see if a person other than you answers the phone or even if you will answer the phone
- Odd Social Media / Networking Requests – Are people you never heard of popping up and wanting to befriend you on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc.
- Vehicles in front of your home or place of business for no apparent reason, especially at odd times. In addition, with modern technology, it is easy for a stalker to monitor your home as well.
- Harassing Comments, Emails, Text Messages or Otherwise – If you suddenly ,out of the blue, notice that someone you have never heard of is “harassing” or “provoking” you for no legitimate reason, its time for a Red flag to go up.
- An Abundance of odd “Garbage Mail” – it has been proven that genuine stalkers like to keep in contact with their victims through any means of harassment necessary – this includes registering the victim for email lists, free mail catalogs, telemarketing “junk”, or even signing them up for things like Free Estimates for housing repairs. Even though the stalker doesn’t get to see you getting the “junk mail” or the telemarketing calls, they know you will be getting them.
- Strange emails being sent to your work email address. If you have an office job with an email address that is public and you begin getting a wealth of strange, out-of-the-norm questions, they most likely are not legitimate.
- SMS / Text Message Spam –A stalker may use your cell phone number and sign you up for everything they can find online that asks for cellular numbers. This text “spam” can begin with only a few per month then turn into several per week. Depending on your data plan this may cause overage that may end up costing money.
- Overall Noticeable Oddities – May include things such as: vehicle “keyed”, tires flattened, property vandalized.