Stalking may lead to violence including great bodily harm or death. When a stalker is identified it is essential to determine the stalker's potential for violence. A threat assessment to determine potentially violent stalkers is essential. Early identification of the violent stalker can facilitate appropriate law enforcement and/or psychiatric intervention.
The Three Strongest Predictors of Violence by a Stalker
- History of substance abuse
- History of previous violence.
- History of mental illness.
Additional Characteristics of a Potentially Violent Stalker
- Access to the victim or the victim's family
- Possession of weapons
- Present or past threats to kill the victim or others
- A disregard for the consequences of violating protection orders
- Previous history of stalking
- Past instances of hostage taking
- Suicidal tendencies
- High degree of obsession, possessiveness, or jealousy.
There are federal and state laws pertaining to stalking. 15 states classify stalking as a felony upon the first offense. 34 classify stalking as a felony upon the second offense and/or when the crime involves aggravating factors. Larger, metropolitan law enforcement agencies frequently have anti-stalking task forces to investigate and handle stalking cases. If the suspect is mentally ill, he/she may be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital for a 72 hour evaluation as a danger to others, or ordered by the court to obtain outpatient mental health treatment. If the stalker has a treatable psychiatric disorder, he/she may benefit from psychotropic medications or therapy. However, truly antisocial or psychopathic stalkers should get their treatment in jail or prison.