What is stalking?
Under Oregon law, stalking is when a person makes repeated and unwanted contact with you that:
- alarms: causes you or a member of your immediate family or household fear or anxiety due to the perception of danger; or
- coerces: restrains, compels, or dominates you or a member of your immediate family or household due to force or threats.1
In addition, for the actions/contact to be considered stalking:
- it must be “reasonable” for someone in your situation to be alarmed or coerced in the manner explained above; and
- the repeated, unwanted contact must “reasonably” cause you to fear for your personal safety or that of a member of your immediate family or household.2
1 O.R.S. §§ 163.732(1)(a); 163.730(1), (2)
2 O.R.S. § 163.732(1)(b), (1)(c)
What is unwanted contact?
There are many acts a stalker could do that could be considered unwanted contact. Some examples of unwanted contact include, but are not limited to, when the stalker:
- comes near you or into your sight;
- follows you;
- waits outside of your home, workplace, or school (or your family or household member’s home, workplace, or school);
- communicates with you in any way (mail, email, phone, or through another person); or
- damages your home, workplace, or school.1
1 O.R.S. § 163.730(3)
What kinds of stalking protection orders are there? How long does a stalking protection order last?
There are two types of stalking protection orders: temporary stalking protection orders and final/permanent stalking protection orders.
The judge can issue a temporary stalking protection order if s/he find that there is probable cause to believe that the respondent (the person the order is filed against) has committed stalking. The judge will schedule a hearing to decide whether to grant a final/permanent stalking protection order. The temporary stalking protection order will last until the scheduled hearing. At the hearing for the final/permanent stalking protection order, the judge can extend the temporary stalking protection order for up to 30 days.1
The judge can issue a final/permanent stalking order if the judge finds that it is more likely than not that the respondent committed stalking. The final/permanent stalking order does not expire unless a judge specifically includes an end date.2
What protections can I get in a stalking protection order?
When the judge grants a stalking protection order, the order will specifically say what the stalker (respondent) is not allowed to do. In a temporary order, the judge may order the stalker to stop doing any of the following to you or your family or household members:
- attempting to contact; and
In a final order (issued after the stalker has an opportunity to appear in court), the judge can:
- order the protections listed above;
- order that the stalker have a mental health evaluation and complete treatment if needed; and
- include language that would prohibit the stalker from having firearms and ammunition.2
1 O.R.S. § 163.738(2)(b)
2O.R.S. § 163.738(2)(b), (5)
If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?
When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.
There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:
- The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
- One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
- If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.
However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.
You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.
Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.