In connection with our representation of clients in criminal cases, we frequently defend clients facing the possibility of temporary protective orders based upon alleged stalking. Two requirements are frequently lacking in petitions for temporary protective orders based upon stalking:
Future Stalking: A court must find not only that stalking has occurred in the past, but also that stalking “may occur in the future.” O.C.G.A. § 16-5-94(c); a court may grant a stalking protective order to “bring about the cessation of conduct constituting stalking.” O.C.G.A. § 16-5-94(d). Issuance of a stalking order thus requires the court to form a conclusion about the likelihood of stalking in the future, not just the occurrence of stalking in the past.
Reasonable fear: A finding of stalking requires a finding that the respondent has contacted, followed, or placed under surveillance without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person, and that the petitioner's fear for their safety or the safety of their family is “reasonable.” O.C.G.A. § 16-5- 90(a). Even though the statute mandates proof of fear, evidence of the petitioner's fear may also tend to prove the likelihood that stalking will recur. In Pilcher v. Stribling, 1:12 282 Ga. 166 (2007) the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the petitioner must establish the elements of the stalking by a preponderance of the evidence. Id. at 167. The Stalking Protective Order had been granted for stalking at work. The victims alleged verbal abuse toward them by the fire chief and physical assaults directed toward the victims by the fire chief during basketball games that were conducted as part of their required physical training. The Supreme Court ruled that the defendant's conduct did not fall within the statutory definition of stalking as they were not sufficient to create a reasonable fear for their safety. Id. at 168.
If you need help in defending against a petition for a temporary protective order, contact The Sessions Law Firm today for a free consultation.