Gov. Mike Easley's office said today he had signed a bill that expands the legal definition of stalking.
Under the new law, which takes effect Dec. 1, stalking is defined as harassing another person or engaging in a “course of conduct” that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his safety or suffer emotional distress. The previous definition had not allowed for a conviction based on a “course of conduct,” limiting the crime to harassing “willfully on more than one occasion.”
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State Rep. Karen Ray, an Iredell County Republican, was one of the legislation's primary sponsors. The legislation passed both the House and Senate unanimously.
Stalking can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the offender's criminal record and whether the stalking violated a court order.