Interviewer: How tricky can stalking can get as far dealing with a case like that?
Danielle Hawkes: Stalking can be very tricky on both sides. If you need to stop someone from stalking you, you have to have some evidence that they’ve been contacting you, and you haven’t been wanting that contact. You really have to put together that evidence. On the flip side, sometimes stalking injunctions can be used to actually harass someone. I’ve actually seen that situation several times, where the harasser is the person actually filling the stalking injunction. In that case, you have to show that your contacts were reasonable, that they made sense in the circumstance, and if they weren’t so expensive. Maybe this person is saying you contacted them these 6 times, and really you didn’t. You only contacted them twice.
I’ve actually seen the flip side. It’s very tricky area of law, who’s the aggressor, who’s the victim. It’s not always easy.
The Stalker is usually a Control Freak Who is trying to Control His / Her Victim
Interviewer: How does someone typically know that they’re being stalked?
Danielle Hawkes: By definition they have to have that fear. Someone’s contacting them and causing them to fear for their safety. Really people know when they’re being stalked. The stalker is trying to control them in some sort of way. They’re making their presence known, like a picture is appearing online, or friends giving you information about so and so is trying to get information about you. People tend to know when someone is stalking them. They may not know it as stalking, and they may not know that that’s the term or that it rises to that level.
It is the Attorney’s Duty to Help People Understand the Level of Danger that they are in
One part of my job is helping people understand the level of danger that they’re in. Sometimes people come into my office and they say that sounds pretty normal break up behavior. Other times people come into my office, and they say “I think this is okay. I think I’ll wait until it happens again.” How can really help them see that they might be in the domestic violence cycle, and help them see whether it is or is not a domestic violence cycle, and then make sure they know their resources at that point.
Interviewer: What’s going to happen to someone if they were to violate a stalking injunction?
Danielle Hawkes: Same things as protective order. They’re going to be enforced by the police. There are misdemeanor charges available if it is violated. It’s the same thing.
Spite or Jealousy are Common reasons that Someone may falsely Accuse you of Stalking
Interviewer: What happens when the harasser is filing for the injunction? What are typically the reasons behind those actions? Because someone really wants to get at someone, get someone in trouble, there’s a lot of spite behind that.
Danielle Hawkes: It’s either that someone wants to be the first one in the door. They know they’re in trouble because they’ve been behaving badly, and they want to flip the coin. This happens all the time in relationships, where someone is behaving badly, and they flip on the person and say it’s the other person’s fault. This is just a legal expression of that, where the person say “this is all your fault” and file this against them. In that case, the attorney needs to do 2 things. One, they need to be prepared to defend against that, so that the wrong person doesn’t get a stalking injunction or a protect order against them. They also need to consider filing a protective order or a stalking injunction, against the actual harasser.
Countering a Stalking Injunction Needs a High Level of Preparation and a Competent Attorney
That’s actually tricky, because legislator has said that you can’t just easily go in the court and say “it’s not me, it’s him.” You actually go through a special procedure to do that, and you definitely going to want an attorney to help you with that. If you go into court by yourself, and say “it’s not me, it’s him”, the court will dismiss it. The court will not listen to you, as far as I’m concerned. They’ll send you down stairs to legal aid and have you start the process all over again. It’s a waste of your time. You might as well be prepared when you go in the court to do it properly.