New stalking law in effect

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jul 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-15 19:55:09-04

Victims of stalking now have another tool to end living in fear.

Idaho legislators passed a new law that just went into effect this month.

The Gem state already has statutes in place within the criminal justice system to address protection for victims of stalking and malicious harassment.

However, those no-contact orders require an arrest meaning a suspect has to be arraigned in court before that option is considered. There is also a requirement within the criminal justice system that the victim knows the perpetrator.

"There are a lot of instances where somebody can stalk somebody and they don't make a clear threat but it's unsettling, it's unnerving," said Maureen Wishkoski, a court advocate manager for the Women's & Children's Alliance in Boise.

Case in point: Back in Sept. of 2015, a woman living in the north end of Boise was shot in her backyard by her stalker who is now serving prison time.

The scenario set the tone for legislators as to why another avenue of protection was needed.

Stalking victims don't necessarily need to call the police. They can now opt to head to the courthouse and apply for a civil protection order.

A civil protection order can be filed at any courthouse, at any time. It differs from a no contact order in that you don't have to have had a prior relationship with the perpetrator, the acts of harassment and stalking can be dated back 90 days (a longer time frame compared to the criminal justice system guidelines) and there doesn't have to be evidence of sexual abuse, physical injuries or forced imprisonment.

If someone is stalking you, maliciously harassing you, even via electronic transmissions, you can apply for a civil protection order.

"When somebody files for a protection order, it's a sworn affidavit. So, they are essentially stating, under oath, that they are putting in the petition nothing but the truth," Wishkoski said. "And then often times, individuals are able to have a conversation with the judge. Then, the judge can get a sense of what that person's been experiencing."

"If you feel threatened, you feel insecure and you need some safety planning tips... call our hotline and please get some help and at lest find out what the resources are," added Beatrice Black, executive director of the WCA.

Once a civil protection order is filed, a hearing is typically set for the next morning.

Anyone with questions is urged to call the WCA's hotline: (208) 343-7025.