Rep. Loretta Sanchez Introduces New Federal Stalking Legislation

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-47), a longtime member of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, yesterday introduced a tough new bill that would strengthen federal stalking laws to ensure victims are protected and offenders are punished. In addition to clarifying existing laws, H.R. 5662, the Simplifying the Ambiguous Law, Keeping Everyone Reliably Safe (STALKERS) Act of 2010, would give law enforcement authorities the tools they need to prevent and prosecute stalking in the digital age.

“Physical stalking, cyberstalking, and other acts of intimidation are serious crimes that deserve serious consequences,” said Rep. Sanchez. “Unfortunately, existing federal law doesn’t do enough to protect victims and empower prosecutors. My bill would do both by strengthening existing laws to ensure all forms of harassment are taken seriously in the eyes of the law.”

Currently, federal law is primarily focused on “conventional” acts of stalking such as following someone across state lines, sending unsolicited mail, or making harassing phone calls. But stalking victims are increasingly suffering from cyberstalking and electronic monitoring such as spyware, bugging, or video surveillance. Unfortunately, existing laws do not adequately address these issues or the use of new technologies to harass.

The STALKERS Act of 2010 would expand the scope of federal stalking laws to cover “any conduct in or effecting interstate commerce.” This straightforward language gives the broadest possible mandate to federal law enforcement. It also extends to acts of surveillance and covers new technologies as they develop.

Rep. Sanchez’s bill would also empower law enforcement to prosecute any act of stalking that is “reasonably expected” to cause another person serious emotional distress. Although the current laws cannot be enforced unless a victim can at least demonstrate a reasonable fear of physical injury, victims of stalking often do not recognize significant threats until it is too late for law enforcement to intervene.  Rep. Sanchez’s language would give authorities the power to stop stalkers even if a victim is not fully aware of the danger he or she may be facing.

The STALKERS Act of 2010 also increases the punishment for stalking offenses in two special cases: for stalking in violation of a protective order, the maximum sentence increases by five years. For stalking that targets a victim under the age of eighteen, the maximum sentence increases by ten years. Finally, the bill requires the Attorney General to annually evaluate federal, state, and local efforts to enforce stalking laws, and submit an annual report on what works – and whatdoesn’t work – in the enforcement of these laws.

  3 comments for “Rep. Loretta Sanchez Introduces New Federal Stalking Legislation

  1. July 3, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Chris,
    It would be helpful if you would wait until the Congresswoman’s H.R. 5662, her STALKERS Act of 2010, was posted at http://thomas.loc.gov.
    As of 8:20a.m. Saturday it was yet to be posted.

    I’m curious to know what, “any conduct in or effecting interstate commerce” actually means.
    Interstate Commerce?
    Do members of Congress consider themselves products or services that can be purchased and/or sold as they travel from Washington D.C. to their homes or district offices?

    Let’s not be like Congress endorsing and/or voting for bills before reading.

  2. Bob
    August 1, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Does it also mean that Dateline NBC will get arrested, along will Perverted Justice, for stalking sexual predators ? When do stupid laws end ? They arrest an idiot for X, then add Y & Z charges. They fill up jails with anything they can charge any idiot with. Then the idiot gets out & can’t get a job or a place to live & they use the education they got in jail to commit new crimes. They don’t rehabilitate any of them & they are not allowed to have any kind of normal life after jail, so they commit more crimes & the cycle goes on & on. Soon we will have more people in our gulags than the Communists we complain about. Why not hang everyone convicted of any charge, even speeding, they are potential killers ?? I think these politician’s don’t live in the real world after thier youthful druggie days. Republicans are all crazy anyway. Their is something wrong with their heads. I think they got them stuck up their a**’s !

  3. Bob
    August 2, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Yes! I know she’s a Democrat, but she sounds like those earbanging Republicans with this stupid law, a catch all for idiots.
    Remember how “the 3 strikes law” turned out ? I voted for it & regret doing it. Those morons in Sacramento added petty thieves, pizza thieves, bicycle thieves. What next ? How stupid can they get ? What are they trying to do ? Turn this country into a Disneyland ? An “us or them society” like the Republicans want ? Like Arizona is doing with illegals. Arizona is a Nazi state & the Republicans & cops there should be wearing swastikas. What these morons are doing is giving them another way of locking up more people for stupidity. They can call a pig a cat if they want to, but its still a pig. Put lipstick on it & you have Sarah Palin.

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