Legal Disclaimer: The following is basic legal information, provided as a public service by Wyoming’s lawyers. The information provided is not a substitute for speaking to an attorney. Only an attorney can give you legal advice regarding your specific situation. Click here for help finding a lawyer.
- What is stalking?
- Is stalking serious?
- How can I protect myself if I’m being stalked?
- What is cyberstalking?
- What are the stalking laws in Wyoming?
- What do I do if I am being stalked?
- What do I do after I report that I am being stalked to the police?
- Can I get a protection order if I'm being stalked?
- What is an order of protection against stalking?
- How do I get a Stalking Protection Order in Wyoming?
- How long does the Stalking Order for Protection last?
- Can I extend the protection order?
- How is a protection order against stalking different than a domestic violence protection order?
- What if the person stalking me violates the protection order?
- Can criminal charges be brought against the stalker?
- What about possessing firearms when subject to a Stalking Protection Order?
- Need more information?
Stalking, like domestic violence, is a crime of power and control. Stalking and harassment, is behavior that is repeated and unwanted by the victim. Stalking generally involves harassing and threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. While some conduct involving annoying or menacing behavior might fall short of illegal stalking, such behavior may be a precursor of stalking and violence and should be treated seriously. For more information, see the Stalking Resource Center website.
To read the legal definition of stalking in Wyoming, see W.S. 6-2-506.
Yes. Stalking is very serious and can lead to physical and emotional harm to the person being stalked. Stalking is also a crime and can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Often times stalking is related to domestic violence and should be treated in a similar way. Stalking protection orders are also available and do not require criminal charges against the alleged stalker. (See Stalking Protection Orders below).
Many victims struggle with how to respond to the stalker. Some victims try to reason with the stalker, try to "let them down easy" or "be nice" in hopes of getting the stalker to stop the behavior. Some victims tell themselves that the behavior "isn't that bad" or other sentiments that minimize the stalking behavior. Other victims may confront or threaten the stalker and/or try to "fight back." These methods rarely work because stalkers are actually encouraged by any contact with the victim, even negative interactions.
Although there is not one definition of cyberstalking accepted by everyone, the term is used to refer to the use of the Internet, e-mail, and other electronic communication devices to stalk another person.
Stalkers often use technology to assist them in stalking their victims.
Cyberstalking refers to the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communication devices to stalk another person. Examples of stalking on the internet include: sending repeated, threatening, or harassing messages by the simple push of a button, using programs to send messages at regular or random intervals without being physically on the internet, or the stalker may post the victims personal information on a chat room so that the people who respond will contact with the victim.
If you are being harassed or threatened by someone repeatedly, through any form of technology, you need to treat it seriously.
Stalking Resource Center has additional information and resources.
In Wyoming, there are numerous elements to the crime of stalking A person commits the crime of stalking if, with intent to harass another person, the person engages in a course of conduct reasonably likely to harass that person, including but not limited to any combination of the following:
- Communicating, anonymously or otherwise, or causing communication with another person by verbal, electronic, mechanical, telegraphic, telephonic or written means in a manner that harasses;
- Following a person;
- Watching a person by remaining present outside of his or her school, place of employment, vehicle, other place occupied by the person, or residence;
- Otherwise engaging in a course of conduct that harasses another person.
Basically, Wyoming requires more than one incident and instead will look to see if there has been a series of acts meant to harass you.
If you are being stalked, you should consider contacting the police. In Wyoming, police officers can help victims and may take whatever steps necessary to reasonably protect the victim. Police officers can also advise the stalking victim of how to obtain a civil protection order, information about a shelter medical care, counseling, and other services.
Additionally, when reporting incidents to law enforcement, you should always write down the officer’s name and badge number for your own records. Even if officers do not make an arrest, you can ask them to make a written report and request a copy for your records. Because this information could be introduced as evidence or inadvertently shared with the stalker at a future time, do not include any information that you do not want the offender to see.
You will also want to create a Stalking Incident and Behavior Log. The stalking log should be used to record and document all stalking-related behavior, including harassing phone calls, letters, e-mail messages, acts of vandalism, and threats communicated through third parties.
You can also try to get protection order. The forms are available at the Circuit Court clerk’s office in your county. Click on "Court Info" above for the Circuit Court Directory.
Yes, you may be able to get a Stalking Protection Order. This protection order, orders the perpetrator to stop stalking the victim or any other person included in the order.
As part of the stalking order of protection, the court may tell the stalker to stay away from the home, school, business, or place of employment of the victim or any other locations the court describes. As part of the stalking order of protection, the court may tell the stalker to stop contacting, intimidating, threatening or otherwise interfering with the victim or any other person described in the order.
An order of protection against stalking is a paper that is signed by a judge and tells your stalker to stop stalking you or face serious legal consequences. It offers legal protection from stalking to both women and men victims.
The steps to getting an order of protection against stalking are similar to the steps to getting a domestic violence order of protection. See “What are the steps for obtaining an Order of Protection?” at Womenslaw.org.
A stalking order of protection can be ordered for a fixed period of time not to exceed three (3) years.
Yes. A stalking order of protection can be extended for additional periods of time not to exceed one (1) year each. In order to extend the order, the individual seeking the order must show that there is good cause to extend it. Good cause is not defined in the stalking statute. However, courts have typically found that good cause may exist where the person seeking the order continues to fear the stalker or where there is pending litigation between the parties. The fact that a stalking incident has not occurred should not prevent renewal if there is still reason for the person seeking the order to fear that the stalker will harm them.
These two types of orders are similar because:
- They are both designed to help protect you.
- There are no court or filing fees for either type of order.
- You do not need to file criminal charges to get either type of order.
- The steps to getting both types of orders are similar.
An order of protection against stalking is different from a domestic violence order of protection because:
- You do not need a special relationship with the stalker to get a stalking order. You can get a stalking order against anyone who is stalking you.
- A stalking order can order someone to stay away from you and not stalk you anymore, but it won’t address things like child custody or child support.
- In some cases, a district attorney can also ask a judge for a stalking order for you.
The stalking order of protection will also state that a willful violation of any part of the order is a crime. Violation of the order can result in immediate arrest and may in some cases subject the stalker to greater penalties for felony stalking.
Criminal charges may be brought against the stalker. Charges can either be brought as a misdemeanor or as a felony.
Stalking is typically a misdemeanor, unless it is elevated to the level of felony stalking (see below). If the stalker is convicted of misdemeanor stalking they can face up to 6 months in prison, a $750 fine, or both.
Felony stalking is a criminal offense, which can be brought by the state.
Stalking can be a felony when: 1) the stalker was convicted within five (5) years of a prior conviction under Wyoming law, or a similar law in another state, 2) if the stalker caused serious bodily harm to the victim or another person while stalking the victim, 3) the stalking violates parole, probation, or bail, or 4) if the stalker was subject to a stalking protection order commits another act of stalking in violation of the order of protection.
If the stalker is found guilty of felony stalking, the stalker may face up to ten (10) years in prison.
Possession of Firearm While Subject to Order of Protection—18 U.S.C. §922(g)(8)
It is illegal for a person to possess a firearm while subject to a court order restraining such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or the child of an intimate partner or from engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child. The protection order must have been issued following a hearing as to which the defendant had actual notice and an opportunity to participate. The protection order must also include a specific finding that the defendant represents a credible threat to the physical safety of the victim, or must include an explicit prohibition against the use of force that would reasonably be expected to cause injury.
For more information on stalking go to the following websites:
- National Institute of Justice, Stalking
- Stalking Resource Center
- Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault