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*** CHANGE IN 2021 *** (SEE 1320-S2.SL) ***
Stalking is a crime that affects 3.4 million people over the age of eighteen each year in the United States. Almost half of those victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week. Twenty-nine percent of stalking victims fear that the stalking will never stop. The prevalence of anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression is much higher among stalking victims than the general population. Three in four stalking victims are stalked by someone they know, and at least thirty percent of stalking victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner. For many of those victims, the domestic violence protection order is a tool they can access to help them stay safer. For those who have not had an intimate relationship with the person stalking them, there are few remedies for them under the law. Victims who do not report the crime still desire safety and protection from future interactions with the offender. Some cases in which the stalking is reported are not prosecuted. In these situations, the victim should be able to seek a civil remedy requiring that the offender stay away from the victim. It is the intent of the legislature that the stalking protection order created by this chapter be a remedy for victims who do not qualify for a domestic violence order of protection. Moreover, it is the intent of the legislature that courts specifically distinguish stalking conduct covered by the stalking protection order from common acts of harassment or nuisance covered by antiharassment orders. Law enforcement agencies need to be able to rely on orders that distinguish stalking conduct from common acts of harassment or nuisance. Victims of stalking conduct deserve the same protection and access to the court system as victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and this protection can be accomplished without infringing on constitutionally protected speech or activity. The legislature finds that preventing the issuance of conflicting orders is in the interest of both petitioners and respondents.
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