Legally Brief: Indiana Supreme Court affirms criminal stalking can take place in a single episode

by Nupur Chandna, ICADV Attorney Volunteer

In a recent case, a victim was followed in a vehicle for more than two hours as she attempted to evade her follower. The relentless pursuit ended only after she pulled into the parking lot of the local police station for the second time and sought help.

The Court of Appeals affirmed that the stalker’s actions amounted to “repeated or continuous harassment or impermissible contact”, even though his actions took place over the course of fewer than three hours.

While Indiana appellate courts have long held that “the term ‘repeated’ in Indiana’s anti-stalking law means ‘more than once’,” in this instance although the stalking was not repeated the court found continued harassment. That alone was sufficient to bring a charge of stalking.

The actions of the perpetrator in following the victim for over two hours fell within the statutory definition of “continuing harassment” which includes following or pursuing. The Court of Appeals held that under the totality of the circumstance the perpetrator’s actions fell within the definition of stalking.

The Supreme Court unanimously agreed with the Court of Appeals, that for actions to constitute stalking it is not necessary for stalking to occur over several or separate occasions. It is sufficient that it is continuous in nature, even if it is in one single episode.

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