Why we support California Assembly Bill 1356 to strengthen California's Civil Stalking Law
The Honorable Bob Wieckowski
Chair, Assembly Judiciary Committee
State Capitol, Room 4016
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 319-2125
Dear Assemblymember Wieckowski:
On behalf of the Paparazzi Reform Initiative, Inc. (“PRI”), we respectfully write in resounding support of AB 1356 – a bill amending California’s civil stalking law to provide much needed protections for those placed in serious emotional distress by unauthorized and overt surveillance. This bill reflects a growing trend among a majority of the United States to recognize substantial emotional distress as a valid harm against which stalking laws should protect, and unauthorized surveillance as an activity from which individuals should be shielded. The PRI applauds and welcomes the updates provided in AB 1356.
Currently, California’s stalking law can only be used if, in essence, a victim or victim’s family is placed in fear of bodily harm. This requirement has created a bizarre environment wherein routinely stalked and emotionally distressed individuals are powerless to prevent systematic torment from obsessive predators unless the predator acts with the intent to cause fear of bodily harm in the victim. The dangerous proximity to danger in which the current iteration of California’s stalking law requires stalking victims to be placed is not only highly dangerous, but legally sanctions a wide array of conduct aimed at creating severe emotional distress in stalking victims.
Oftentimes, a stalker cannot be legally restrained unless and until a weapon is brandished, or a serious and provable threat of bodily harm is issued to the victim. The law is thus slow to intervene at a point where mental anguish can be lessened, fear abated, and traumatic psychological harm reduced. This is an unacceptable status quo, and does not reflect the majority of states that find judicial intervention to stop stalkers at an earlier point in time appropriate.
AB 1356 wisely recognizes the importance of enabling victims of stalking to confront their pursuers before it’s simply too late. It empowers victims and others to address serious psychologically traumatic catalysts before irreversible mental harm is imparted. It permits victims and loved ones to lawfully act, rather than make the false choice of permitting loved one’s to suffer continuing trauma or engage in self-help.
PRI thanks you for considering this bill and taking a stand to protect stalking victims. These changes are long overdue, and will make all Californians safer.
Sean Burke, Founder and CEO
Patrick Alach, Legal Counsel