Advice for Woman being Stalked

A friend of mine is being stalked and threatened by the father of her child.  He breaks into her house when she isn't there and steals and damages things.  He sometimes comes when they are there and bangs on the windows and door.  She has a restraining order but by the time the police arrive he is gone.  Even though she has him on camera in her house and stealing her mail the police say there is nothing they can do since they were previously in a relationship.  What do people do in this situation?  Should she hire an attorney to help her? A security guard?  Any references for either of those would be greatly appreciated.  

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If she has a valid restraining order, the police are giving her incorrect information. Violation of a restraining order is a crime, and the police could investigate and pursue charges if there is adequate evidence that her ex is violating the order. I would recommend that she ask for the badge number of the officer(s) who told her there was nothing they could do, and contact their supervisor. If that still fails, I would recommend she speak to an attorney. I am an attorney but I don't specialize in this area, so I can't offer to help. If you'd like to put your friend in touch with me so I can try to provide a referral, I'd be happy to try.

I'm no lawyer but if she has a restraining order and has him on camera doing clearly illegal things (breaking in and stealing mail) that would be illegal even without a restraining order, she needs to go back to the police with her evidence and order and insist on him being arrested. There is no excuse for them ignoring this dangerous situation.

She should also put in a loud alarm system in case he breaks in while she's asleep.

It's hard to believe that her local police are being that stupid.  If she has a restraining order, IT DOES NOT MATTER if they were in a previous relationship.  It would not matter if his name is on the lease or the deed. If the order (as it should, if properly written) bars him from coming within X feet of her house, person and child, that's it.   I would start by going higher up in the police department to whoever is in charge of the precinct, in charge of patrols, or, if the department has one, in charge of domestic violence cases.  Your friend could also reach out to one of the domestic violence support groups in the area for advice. 

She may find a good place to start here:

http://www.womenslaw.org/index.php   -- organization focused on preventing domestic violence.

https://victimsofcrime.org/  --  Has a whole section on dealing with stalkers; also restraining orders.

Restraining orders may be civil or criminal, they may not work exactly the same state-to-state.  Enforcement is often spotty and depends a lot on the political atmosphere of the town, county, and state; it's possible a call to a state representative's office or some other powerful elected official might make the police more inclined towards enforcement.

I've been stalked and it's hell on earth.  Good luck to your friend and to you.

What county do you live in?

Alameda County is lucky to have Nancy O'Malley as our District Attorney.   There are several resources within her offices for support and for protection from harassment or worse.

info [at] alcoda.org

(510) 272-6222.

Research about the kind of abuse you are being subjected to demonstrated that both you and your child are in danger.

Wait, WHAT? The police said they can't honor a restraining order, because they used to be in a relationship? This makes no sense. It may be true that the police can't enforce a restraining order, but not because they were previously in a relationship - it's because that is considered a civil matter that a judge would handle, so your friend would have to go back to the judge with the photos, etc. And she should get a protective order rather than a restraining order if she wants the police to be able to immediately arrest him. 

I asked my police officer husband about this. Here is his response... 

It sounds like the police officers are just being lazy because there are several crimes that are being committed that should have already been addressed. 1. Felony burglary 459 PC - he is entering a residence without permission with intent to commit larceny or any felony. 2. Vandalism 594 (b)(1) PC - if the things he is vandalizing in the house is more than $400 it is a felony. Restraining order violation 166(a)(4) PC - he is disobeying an order from the court. Also depending on how she feels in the situation (Does she feel like she is in danger because of his actions? Has he had any contact with her/made any statements to her?) it could possibly meet the elements for criminal threats or felony stalking 646.9(b) PC. If the police have been filing reports, which they ABSOLUTELY should have been doing, they can get a warrant for his arrest for all of those charges.

She needs to keep a copy of the restraining order on her at all times. She should also be documenting every time he illegally entered her home and takes/breaks something. She should also be notifying the police and documenting her contact with them. Ask for copies of the police reports. It helps build a case against him when this goes to court.

Most importantly, things like this can escalate to a domestic violence situation quickly so both her and the police need to be proactive about her safety. it doesn't matter if they were previously in a relationship or that they have a child together. If she is uncomfortable with his contact then she should be reaching out to the police, especially since he is actually committing crimes. If the officers aren't responsive enough, she can call and ask to speak to their lieutenant or captain. Sometimes cops get lazy and need to be called out. 

I have had an ex-boyfriend who has stalked me off and on for years.  Family Violence Law Center in Oakland helped me, but restraining order was not possible without being able to serve him, and he has stayed "off the grid" without an address, even at almost 60 years old.  Luckily it has more or less died out, and was more vandalism-type activity, such as letting air out of tires, dumping trash cans into recycling bin, breaking holes in car's lights, gluing lightbulb into light socket.  It was horrible when it was happening every week and living with the uncertainty of what was going to happen next.  I also kept it from the kids until the youngest became a teen, due to not wanting to scare them.  

I can only imagine your level of stress and hope that you can take measures to make your life safer.  Best of luck.