Legislation Strengthens Stalking Prosecution

A bill strengthening how stalking offenders are prosecuted and sentenced is moving through the Wyoming legislature.

But Tara Muir, Public Policy Director with the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said the bill has met debate every step of the way. She said lawmakers have been caught up on whether a prosecutor has to prove a victim suffered a substantial amount of fear. Muir added most states are moving towards an objective test that focuses on the behavior of the perpetrator.

“With an objective test we don’t have to put the victim on the witness stand to prove there’s some kind of substantial fear or damages or anything,” said Muir. “This is a criminal case. There is no other crime where you have to prove the victim was actually afraid. We don’t have to prove a banker was afraid [in a robbery]. But in a stalking case we seem to focus on that in Wyoming.”

Muir said the House Judiciary Committee strengthened the bill by taking out the language referencing substantial fear. It passed Committee of the Whole and is now up for a second reading in the House.

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