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Definition of Stalking

Tutorial on the crimes of stalking and harassment for New Mexico judges

"Stalking" is the term commonly used to refer to a pattern of behavior directed towards an individual by another that results in the person to whom the behavior is directed fearing for themselves and/or others. The behaviors can involve overtly criminal behavior or seemingly non-criminal, innocent behavior or both. Stalking can escalate and ultimately result in actual physical harm to its intended subject.

In contrast to many other criminal offenses, stalking involves repeated victimization of the targeted individual. Stalking, therefore, is a series of acts or a course of conduct and never a single incident. Another contrast between other criminal offenses and stalking is the attention placed on the impact of the actions on the victim in stalking situations.

Examples of Stalking

The series of events or acts that comprise stalking can involve a mix of criminal acts and acts which, when viewed in isolation, could be seen as perhaps being innocent or non-threatening. Generally, stalking can include:

  • Vandalizing the victim's property
  • Stealing from the victim or burglarizing his or her home
  • Threatening the victim
  • Killing or harming the victim's pet(s)
  • Following the victim
  • Waiting outside the victim's home and/or place of business
  • Visiting the victim at work
  • Sending the victim cards or gifts
  • Sending the victim photographs of him or her taken without consent and/or knowledge
  • Leaving telephone, text, e-mail or hand-written messages for the victim
  • Annoying phone calls or other forms of harassment
  • Monitoring the victim's internet history and/or computer usage
  • Using technology to gather information on and/or images of the victim
  • Disclosing to the victim personal information the stalker has learned about him or her or their daily activities and interests
  • Disseminating personal information about the victim to others
  • Violating the terms of a protective order
  • Assaulting the victim