This year, 2014, is the 10th anniversary of National Stalking Awareness Month. A lot has been accomplished in the last ten years to raise awareness and strengthen laws and increase response to stalking. The fact still remains that 6.6 million people are stalked in the United States in one year. So what has been done locally to combat stalking? First, in the state of Montana, stalking is a crime.
MCA 45-5-220. Stalking - exemption - penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of stalking if the person purposely or knowingly causes another person substantial emotional distress or reasonable apprehension of bodily injury or death by repeatedly: (a) following the stalked person; or (b) harassing, threatening, or intimidating the stalked person, in person or by mail, electronic communication, as defined in 45-8-213, or any other action, device, or method. (2) This section does not apply to a constitutionally protected activity. (3) For the first offense, a person convicted of stalking shall be imprisoned in the county jail for a term not to exceed 1 year or fined an amount not to exceed $1,000, or both. For a second or subsequent offense or for a first offense against a victim who was under the protection of a restraining order directed at the offender, the offender shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term not to exceed 5 years or fined an amount not to exceed $10,000, or both. A person convicted of stalking may be sentenced to pay all medical, counseling, and other costs incurred by or on behalf of the victim as a result of the offense. (4) Upon presentation of credible evidence of violation of this section, an order may be granted, as set forth in Title 40, chapter 15, restraining a person from engaging in the activity described in subsection (1). (5) For the purpose of determining the number of convictions under this section, "conviction" means: (a) a conviction, as defined in 45-2-101, in this state; (b) a conviction for a violation of a statute similar to this section in another state; or (c) a forfeiture of bail or collateral deposited to secure the defendant's appearance in court in this state or another state for a violation of a statute similar to this section, which forfeiture has not been vacated. (6) Attempts by the accused person to contact or follow the stalked person after the accused person has been given actual notice that the stalked person does not want to be contacted or followed constitutes prima facie evidence that the accused person purposely or knowingly followed, harassed, threatened, or intimidated the stalked person.
Safe Space is active in providing resources and support to victims of stalking. A Safe Space advocate can:
Accompany victims to law enforcement, court hearings, medical facilities
Assist with filing an Order of Protection
Assist with making a Personalized Safety Plan
Provide information and referrals for support groups and counselors
Offer a listening ear to talk about the experience and identify other resources available
Safe Space advocates are here to help all survivors of domestic and sexual violence. This includes those who
are being stalked. If you are in need of support or information, or just someone to speak with,
call our 24 hour crisis and information hotline at 406-782-8511.