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FabulaScribe
11-12-2014, 12:33 AM
I have a character in my novel set in 1988 who stalks another character. Because stalking wasn't criminalized in the US until 1990, I'm trying to find out what terminology would have been used for what he did and whether any of his behavior would have been illegal at that time under, say, harassment laws.

I see in reading about Richard Farley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Farley and in some newspaper articles on news.google.com/newspapers), who stalked a woman for a period of years before committing a mass shooting/murder in February of 1988, that the victim of his stalking was able to get a temporary restraining order and had a court date set to try to make it permanent.

I'm having trouble remembering how that sort of thing worked back then. Can someone tell me if I am correct in thinking that Farley's victim had to get a restraining order, rather than simply having him arrested, because what he was doing (stalking) wasn't a crime yet and he would have had to violate the restraining order (which he did when he shot her and several other people) in order to be arrested?

What I need to know for my novel is: Would a police officer have been able to investigate someone for following/harassing someone else if there was no restraining order in place? This would have been an informal investigation, as my police officer character knows the victim. He is aware of other things that the guy has done as well (date rape - I posted about that in a different thread) and he is looking for anything he can gather on the guy so he can arrest him and then get a search warrant, etc., so he can gather other evidence that he knows exists. Would he be allowed to, for instance, run fingerprints to prove that the guy sent a specific letter to his victim, or would that be a no-no because the fingerprint would technically only prove that the guy did something that wasn't considered illegal at the time? (Or, were certain aspects of stalking already illegal but called something else?)

Thanks in advance!

jclarkdawe
11-12-2014, 04:58 PM
Impossible to give you a generic answer. Not only did this vary from state-to-state, it varied from town-to-town. Some places were aggressive about dealing with this problem, other places were equally aggressive about ignoring the problem. I think very few states had stalking laws.

Your approach is plausible. Some police departments would have been fine with this, others would not have.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

FabulaScribe
11-12-2014, 09:29 PM
Thank you so much, Jim! My story is set in Florida but my town is a fictional one, so I have a bit of leeway on what their police department might be ok with.

jclarkdawe
11-12-2014, 09:48 PM
Florida is a harder sell on them protecting the woman than a state like Connecticut. You might want to PM WeaselFire, who I believe lives in Florida, and ask him.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

FabulaScribe
11-12-2014, 10:20 PM
Florida is a harder sell on them protecting the woman than a state like Connecticut. You might want to PM WeaselFire, who I believe lives in Florida, and ask him.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Oh, thank you. I see he's from Floral City, FL. I used to live not far from there. It's also not terribly far from where my fictional town is located. About 30 minutes.

ironmikezero
11-13-2014, 08:06 PM
Your stalker's behavior could possibly fall within violations of some state's laws, but it might be quite a stretch in that time frame.

However, you mentioned a letter; if it was sent through the US mail and contained a threat, you might have a federal violation. The US Postal Inspection Service would have primary investigative jurisdiction; and they would share intel/results with the appropriate local LE agency.

https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/aboutus/laws.aspx