LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Tonight’s “48 Hours” looked at the crime of stalking.
“NCIS” star Pauley Perrette revealed, for example, that she’s been stalked for more than a decade.
CBS2’s Jennifer Kastner spoke to an attorney who has represented hundreds of stalking victims — many of them celebrities.
Santa Monica attorney Steve Cron is an expert in California stalking laws.
He talked to Kastner about the laws, how the state handles the problem and how you can protect yourself.
“I think it’s a prevalent issue,” Cron said.
“A super fan can follow his celebrity anywhere he or she wants to go as long as it’s in a public arena. But you can’t go into their private space,” Cron said.
Breaking the law and crossing the line is when the line of being a fan turns into a stalker.
Hollywood stars like Sandra Bullock and Kendall Jenner are often targets of the obsessed.
Bullock’s stalker broke into her home. During his trial, her chilling 911 call was played.
“It was a man. I’m locked in my closet, I have a safe door in my bedroom. I’ve locked it and I’m locked in the closet right now,” she said.
A few years ago, Madonna’s life was reportedly threatened by a stalker who once briefly escaped from an LA mental hospital.
His possessions were found in a Long Beach storage facility — the man had knives and a photo with a tattoo of Madonna on his stomach. He had pictures of her, handwritten rantings and a collection of dolls. One of them was headless. The man had no children.
“There’s a screw lose. there’s something in them that says ‘this celebrity really wants me to get close to her, or him,” says Cron.
A stalker is defined, in part, by California state law, as someone who willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows, harasses or threatens another person.
The maximum sentence is around three years in state prison.
Cron believed California’s anti-stalking laws have become increasingly touch and effective in the past few years.
“I think there are plenty of laws that make it, that are available to prosecutors and judges if they want to throw the book at somebody I think they can do it. they have plenty of ammunition right now,” Cron says.
If you believe you are being stalked, Cron says the first step is to call police and report it. You also have to go to the police station to fill out the forms.
If the officers don’t or won’t make an arrest, Cron says hire an attorney who can file a restraining order.
For more on the “48 Hours” report on stalking, click here.