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Ohio

Local Resources

Stalking often occurs along with other crimes, like domestic violence and sexual assault. While there are no state coalitions for victims of stalking, many domestic violence and sexual assault programs are able to provide assistance. Many of the resources can be confusing to navigate, victim advocates are available to talk to you about protection orders, and your states criminal stalking laws. Victim advocates can also assist you with safety planning, keeping a log of stalking incidents, and how to be safe when using technology. Find services and/or an advocate in your county using the following links:

Protection Orders

A protective order is a legal order issued by a state court that requires one person to stop harming and/or contacting another. Each state may have several types of protective orders: civil protective orders, criminal protective orders, or restraining orders, and they may have different names (for example, in Pennsylvania, there are “protection from abuse” orders). Some protective orders are specific to domestic and interfamilial violence, while others are broader, covering stalking, harassment, sexual assault, and other types of misconduct. An individual can get a protection order when the perpetrator is proven to have acted with intent to cause the victim emotional distress or fear for his/her safety, even when the perpetrator has not been charged or convicted. They permit the victim to call the police to have the abuser arrested if the abuser violates any part of the order.

Click here for more information on protection orders in Ohio.

Criminal Stalking Laws

Criminal stalking laws define when a perpetrator may be charged with the crime of stalking, and what infractions are required to bring such a charge. The laws usually define various misdemeanor and felony offenses that correlate with the severity of the transgression. Based on police investigation, a state prosecutor will determine what charges to bring against an offender, and will then file charges against the perpetrator (formally known as an indictment). A trial typically follows, and the defendant may be offered a plea agreement. The criminal statute will also delineate potential punishments, if the perpetrator is convicted, which may include probation, house arrest, and incarceration, among others. Restitution may be requested and awarded to the victim by court order following a conviction, usually at a sentencing hearing.

Click here for more information on criminal stalking laws in Ohio.

National Resources

  • VictimConnect Resource Center - Confidential information, support and referrals for victims of crime via telephone, chat and text including safety planning and crime reporting.
  • WomensLaw.org - State-specific legal information related regarding protection orders, custody, divorce, state gun laws and more. WomensLaw.org also operates an email hotline where victims, their family/friends and advocates can write to ask legal questions.

Protection Orders

§ 2903.214. Petition for protection order to protect victim of menacing by stalking or sexually oriented offense

(a) As used in this section:

(1) "Court" means the court of common pleas of the county in which the person to be protected by the protection order resides.

(2) "Victim advocate" means a person who provides support and assistance for a person who files a petition under this section.

(3) "Family or household member" has the same meaning as in section 3113.31 of the Revised Code.

(4) "Protection order issued by a court of another state" has the same meaning as in section 2919.27 of the Revised Code.

(5) "Sexually oriented offense" has the same meaning as in section 2950.01 of the Revised Code.

(6) "Electronic monitoring" has the same meaning as in section 2929.01 of the Revised Code.

(b) The court has jurisdiction over all proceedings under this section.

(c) A person may seek relief under this section for the person, or any parent or adult household member may seek relief under this section on behalf of any other family or household member, by filing a petition with the court. The petition shall contain or state all of the following:

(1) An allegation that the respondent is eighteen years of age or older and engaged in a violation of section 2903.211 of the Revised Code against the person to be protected by the protection order or committed a sexually oriented offense against the person to be protected by the protection order, including a description of the nature and extent of the violation;

(2) If the petitioner seeks relief in the form of electronic monitoring of the respondent, an allegation that at any time preceding the filing of the petition the respondent engaged in conduct that would cause a reasonable person to believe that the health, welfare, or safety of the person to be protected was at risk, a description of the nature and extent of that conduct, and an allegation that the respondent presents a continuing danger to the person to be protected;

(3) A request for relief under this section.

(d)

(1) If a person who files a petition pursuant to this section requests an ex parte order, the court shall hold an ex parte hearing as soon as possible after the petition is filed, but not later than the next day that the court is in session after the petition is filed. The court, for good cause shown at the ex parte hearing, may enter any temporary orders, with or without bond, that the court finds necessary for the safety and protection of the person to be protected by the order. Immediate and present danger to the person to be protected by the protection order constitutes good cause for purposes of this section. Immediate and present danger includes, but is not limited to, situations in which the respondent has threatened the person to be protected by the protection order with bodily harm or in which the respondent previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of section 2903.211 of the Revised Code or a sexually oriented offense against the person to be protected by the protection order.

(2)

(a) If the court, after an ex parte hearing, issues a protection order described in division (E) of this section, the court shall schedule a full hearing for a date that is within ten court days after the ex parte hearing. The court shall give the respondent notice of, and an opportunity to be heard at, the full hearing. The court shall hold the full hearing on the date scheduled under this division unless the court grants a continuance of the hearing in accordance with this division. Under any of the following circumstances or for any of the following reasons, the court may grant a continuance of the full hearing to a reasonable time determined by the court:

(i) Prior to the date scheduled for the full hearing under this division, the respondent has not been served with the petition filed pursuant to this section and notice of the full hearing.

(ii) The parties consent to the continuance.

(iii) The continuance is needed to allow a party to obtain counsel.

(iv) The continuance is needed for other good cause.

(b) An ex parte order issued under this section does not expire because of a failure to serve notice of the full hearing upon the respondent before the date set for the full hearing under division (D)(2)(a) of this section or because the court grants a continuance under that division.

(3) If a person who files a petition pursuant to this section does not request an ex parte order, or if a person requests an ex parte order but the court does not issue an ex parte order after an ex parte hearing, the court shall proceed as in a normal civil action and grant a full hearing on the matter.

(e)

(1)

(a) After an ex parte or full hearing, the court may issue any protection order, with or without bond, that contains terms designed to ensure the safety and protection of the person to be protected by the protection order, including, but not limited to, a requirement that the respondent refrain from entering the residence, school, business, or place of employment of the petitioner or family or household member. If the court includes a requirement that the respondent refrain from entering the residence, school, business, or place of employment of the petitioner or family or household member in the order, it also shall include in the order provisions of the type described in division (E)(5) of this section.

(b) After a full hearing, if the court considering a petition that includes an allegation of the type described in division (C)(2) of this section, or the court upon its own motion, finds upon clear and convincing evidence that the petitioner reasonably believed that the respondent's conduct at any time preceding the filing of the petition endangered the health, welfare, or safety of the person to be protected and that the respondent presents a continuing danger to the person to be protected, the court may order that the respondent be electronically monitored for a period of time and under the terms and conditions that the court determines are appropriate. Electronic monitoring shall be in addition to any other relief granted to the petitioner.

(2)

(a) Any protection order issued pursuant to this section shall be valid until a date certain but not later than five years from the date of its issuance.

(b) Any protection order issued pursuant to this section may be renewed in the same manner as the original order was issued.

(3) A court may not issue a protection order that requires a petitioner to do or to refrain from doing an act that the court may require a respondent to do or to refrain from doing under division (E)(1) of this section unless all of the following apply:

(a) The respondent files a separate petition for a protection order in accordance with this section.

(b) The petitioner is served with notice of the respondent's petition at least forty-eight hours before the court holds a hearing with respect to the respondent's petition, or the petitioner waives the right to receive this notice.

(c) If the petitioner has requested an ex parte order pursuant to division (D) of this section, the court does not delay any hearing required by that division beyond the time specified in that division in order to consolidate the hearing with a hearing on the petition filed by the respondent.

(d) After a full hearing at which the respondent presents evidence in support of the request for a protection order and the petitioner is afforded an opportunity to defend against that evidence, the court determines that the petitioner has committed a violation of section 2903.211 of the Revised Code against the person to be protected by the protection order issued pursuant to division (E)(3) of this section, has committed a sexually oriented offense against the person to be protected by the protection order issued pursuant to division (E)(3) of this section, or has violated a protection order issued pursuant to section 2903.213 of the Revised Code relative to the person to be protected by the protection order issued pursuant to division (E)(3) of this section.

(4) No protection order issued pursuant to this section shall in any manner affect title to any real property.

(5)

(a) If the court issues a protection order under this section that includes a requirement that the alleged offender refrain from entering the residence, school, business, or place of employment of the petitioner or a family or household member, the order shall clearly state that the order cannot be waived or nullified by an invitation to the alleged offender from the complainant to enter the residence, school, business, or place of employment or by the alleged offender's entry into one of those places otherwise upon the consent of the petitioner or family or household member.

(b) Division (E)(5)(a) of this section does not limit any discretion of a court to determine that an alleged offender charged with a violation of section 2919.27 of the Revised Code, with a violation of a municipal ordinance substantially equivalent to that section, or with contempt of court, which charge is based on an alleged violation of a protection order issued under this section, did not commit the violation or was not in contempt of court.

(f)

(1) The court shall cause the delivery of a copy of any protection order that is issued under this section to the petitioner, to the respondent, and to all law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction to enforce the order. The court shall direct that a copy of the order be delivered to the respondent on the same day that the order is entered.

(2) Upon the issuance of a protection order under this section, the court shall provide the parties to the order with the following notice orally or by form:

"NOTICE

As a result of this order, it may be unlawful for you to possess or purchase a firearm, including a rifle, pistol, or revolver, or ammunition pursuant to federal law under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8). If you have any questions whether this law makes it illegal for you to possess or purchase a firearm or ammunition, you should consult an attorney."

(3) All law enforcement agencies shall establish and maintain an index for the protection orders delivered to the agencies pursuant to division (F)(1) of this section. With respect to eachorder delivered, each agency shall note on the index the date and time that it received the order.

(4) Regardless of whether the petitioner has registered the protection order in the county in which the officer's agency has jurisdiction pursuant to division (M) of this section, any officer of a law enforcement agency shall enforce a protection order issued pursuant to this section by any court in this state in accordance with the provisions of the order, including removing the respondent from the premises, if appropriate.

(g) Any proceeding under this section shall be conducted in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure, except that a protection order may be obtained under this section with or without bond. An order issued under this section, other than an ex parte order, that grants a protection order, or that refuses to grant a protection order, is a final, appealable order. The remedies and procedures provided in this section are in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other available civil or criminal remedies.

(h) The filing of proceedings under this section does not excuse a person from filing any report or giving any notice required by section 2151.421 of the Revised Code or by any other law.

(i) Any law enforcement agency that investigates an alleged violation of section 2903.211 of the Revised Code or an alleged commission of a sexually oriented offense shall provide information to the victim and the family or household members of the victim regarding the relief available under this section and section 2903.213 of the Revised Code.

(J) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary and regardless of whether a protection order is issued or a consent agreement is approved by a court of another county or by a court of another state, no court or unit of state or local government shall charge any fee, cost, deposit, or money in connection with the filing of a petition pursuant to this section, in connection with the filing, issuance, registration, or service of a protection order or consent agreement, or for obtaining a certified copy of a protection order or consent agreement.

(k)

(1) A person who violates a protection order issued under this section is subject to the following sanctions:

(a) Criminal prosecution for a violation of section 2919.27 of the Revised Code, if the violation of the protection order constitutes a violation of that section;

(b) Punishment for contempt of court.

(2) The punishment of a person for contempt of court for violation of a protection order issued under this section does not bar criminal prosecution of the person for a violation of section 2919.27 of the Revised Code. However, a person punished for contempt of court is entitled to credit for the punishment imposed upon conviction of a violation of that section, and a person convicted of a violation of that section shall not subsequently be punished for contempt of court arising out of the same activity.

(l) In all stages of a proceeding under this section, a petitioner may be accompanied by a victim advocate.

(m)

(1) A petitioner who obtains a protection order under this section or a protection order under section 2903.213 of the Revised Code may provide notice of the issuance or approval of theorder to the judicial and law enforcement officials in any county other than the county in which the order is issued by registering that order in the other county pursuant to division (M)(2) of this section and filing a copy of the registered order with a law enforcement agency in the other county in accordance with that division. A person who obtains a protection order issued by a court of another state may provide notice of the issuance of the order to the judicial and law enforcement officials in any county of this state by registering the order in that county pursuant tosection 2919.272 of the Revised Code and filing a copy of the registered order with a law enforcement agency in that county.

(2) A petitioner may register a protection order issued pursuant to this section or section 2903.213 of the Revised Code in a county other than the county in which the court that issued the order is located in the following manner:

(a) The petitioner shall obtain a certified copy of the order from the clerk of the court that issued the order and present that certified copy to the clerk of the court of common pleas or the clerk of a municipal court or county court in the county in which the order is to be registered.

(b) Upon accepting the certified copy of the order for registration, the clerk of the court of common pleas, municipal court, or county court shall place an endorsement of registration on the order and give the petitioner a copy of the order that bears that proof of registration.

(3) The clerk of each court of common pleas, municipal court, or county court shall maintain a registry of certified copies of protection orders that have been issued by courts in other counties pursuant to this section or section 2903.213 of the Revised Code and that have been registered with the clerk.

(n)

(1) If the court orders electronic monitoring of the respondent under this section, the court shall direct the sheriff's office or any other appropriate law enforcement agency to install the electronic monitoring device and to monitor the respondent. Unless the court determines that the respondent is indigent, the court shall order the respondent to pay the cost of the installation and monitoring of the electronic monitoring device. If the court determines that the respondent is indigent and subject to the maximum amount allowable to be paid in any year from the fund and the rules promulgated by the attorney general under division (N)(2) of this section, the cost of the installation and monitoring of the electronic monitoring device may be paid out of funds from the reparations fund created pursuant to section 2743.191 of the Revised Code. The total amount of costs for the installation and monitoring of electronic monitoring devices paid pursuant to this division and sections 2151.34 and 2919.27 of the Revised Code from the reparations fund shall not exceed three hundred thousand dollars per year.

(2) The attorney general may promulgate rules pursuant to section 111.15 of the Revised Code to govern payments made from the reparations fund pursuant to this division and sections 2151.34 and 2919.27 of the Revised Code. The rules may include reasonable limits on the total cost paid pursuant to this division and sections 2151.34 and 2919.27 of the Revised Code per respondent, the amount of the three hundred thousand dollars allocated to each county, and how invoices may be submitted by a county, court, or other entity.

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Criminal Stalking Laws

ORC Ann. § 2903.211. Menacing by stalking. (2008)
(A)

(1) No person by engaging in a pattern of conduct shall knowingly cause another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to the other person.

(2) No person, through the use of any electronic method of remotely transferring information, including, but not limited to, any computer, computer network, computer program, or computer system, shall post a message with purpose to urge or incite another to commit a violation of division (A)(1) of this section.

(3) No person, with a sexual motivation, shall violate division (A)(1) or (2) of this section.

(B)  Whoever violates this section is guilty of menacing by stalking.

(1)  Except as otherwise provided in divisions (B)(2) and (3) of this section, menacing by stalking is a misdemeanor of the first degree.

(2)  Menacing by stalking is a felony of the fourth degree if any of the following applies:

(a) The offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a v
iolation of this section or a violation of section 2911.211 of the Revised Code
(b) In committing the offense under division (A)(1), (2), or (3) of this section, the offender made a threat of physical harm to or against the victim, or as a result of an offense committed under division (A)(2) or (3) of this section, a third person induced by the offender's posted message made a threat of physical harm to or against the victim.

(c) In committing the offense under division (A)(1), (2), or (3) of this section, the offender trespassed on the land or premises where the victim lives, is employed, or attends school, or as a result of an offense committed under division (A)(2) or (3) of this section, a third person induced by the offender's posted message trespassed on the land or premises where the victim lives, is employed, or attends school.

(d) The victim of the offense is a minor.

(e) The offender has a history of violence toward the victim or any other person or a history of other violent acts toward the victim or any other person.

(f) While committing the offense under division (A)(1) of this section or a violation of division (A)(3) of this section based on conduct in violation of division (A)(1) of this section, the offender had a deadly weapon on or about the offender's person or under the offender's control. Division (B)(2)(f) of this section does not apply in determining the penalty for a violation of division (A)(2) of this section or a violation of division (A)(3) of this section based on conduct in violation of division (A)(2) of this section.

(g) At the time of the commission of the offense, the offender was the subject of a protection order issued under section 2903.213 or 2903.214 of the Revised Code, regardless of whether the person to be protected under the order is the victim of the offense or another person.

(h) In committing the offense under division (A)(1), (2), or (3) of this section, the offender caused serious physical harm to the premises at which the victim resides, to the real property on which that premises is located, or to any personal property located on that premises, or as a result of an offense committed under division (A)(2) of this section or an offense committed under division (A)(3) of this section based on a violation of division (A)(2) of this section, a third person induced by the offender's posted message caused serious physical harm to that premises, that real property, or any personal property on that premises.

(i) Prior to committing the offense, the offender had been determined to represent a substantial risk of physical harm to others as manifested by evidence of then-recent homicidal or other violent behavior, evidence of then-recent threats that placed another in reasonable fear of violent behavior and serious physical harm, or other evidence of then-present dangerousness. 

(3) If the victim of the offense is an officer or employee of a public children services agency or a private child placing agency and the offense relates to the officer's or employee's performance or anticipated performance of official responsibilities or duties, menacing by stalking is either a felony of the fifth degree or, if the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to an offense of violence, the victim of that prior offense was an officer or employee of a public children services agency or private child placing agency, and that prior offense related to the officer's or employee's performance or anticipated performance of official responsibilities or duties, a felony of the fourth degree.

(C)  Section 2919.271 of the Revised Code applies in relation to a defendant charged with a violation of this section.

(D)  As used in this section:

(1)  "Pattern of conduct" means two or more actions or incidents closely related in time, whether or not there has been a prior conviction based on any of those actions or incidents. Actions or incidents that prevent, obstruct, or delay the performance by a public official, firefighter, rescuer, emergency medical services person, or emergency facility person of any authorized act within the public official's, firefighter's, rescuer's, emergency medical services person's, or emergency facility person's official capacity, or the posting of messages or receipt of information or data through the use of an electronic method of remotely transferring information, including, but not limited to, a computer, computer network, computer program, computer system, or telecommunications device, may constitute a "pattern of conduct."

(2)  "Mental distress" means any of the following:
 
(a) Any mental illness or condition that involves some temporary substantial incapacity;

(b) Any mental illness or condition that would normally require psychiatric treatment, psychological treatment, or other mental health services, whether or not any person requested or received psychiatric treatment, psychological treatment, or other mental health services.

(3)  "Emergency medical services person" is the singular of "emergency medical services personnel" as defined in section 2133.21 of the Revised Code.

(4)  "Emergency facility person" is the singular of "emergency facility personnel" as defined in section 2909.04 of the Revised Code.

(5)  "Public official" has the same meaning as in section 2921.01 of the Revised Code.

(6)  "Computer," "computer network," "computer program," "computer system," and "telecommunications device" have the same meanings as in section 2913.01 of the Revised Code.

(7)  "Post a message" means transferring, sending, posting, publishing, disseminating, or otherwise communicating, or attempting to transfer, send, post, publish, disseminate, or otherwise communicate, any message or information, whether truthful or untruthful, about an individual, and whether done under one's own name, under the name of another, or while impersonating another.

(8)  "Third person" means, in relation to conduct as described in division (A)(2) of this section, an individual who is neither the offender nor the victim of the conduct.


(9)  "Sexual motivation" has the same meaning as in section 2971.01 of the Revised Code.

 

(10) “Organization” includes an entity that is a governmental employer.

 

(E)  The state does not need to prove in a prosecution under this section that a person requested or received psychiatric treatment, psychological treatment, or other mental health services in order to show that the person was caused mental distress as described in division (D)(2)(b) of this section. 

(F)
(1) This section does not apply to a person solely because the person 
provided access or connection to or from an electronic method of remotely transferring information not under that person's control, including having provided capabilities that are incidental to providing access or connection to or from the electronic method of remotely transferring the information, and that do not include the creation of the content of the material that is the subject of the access or connection. In addition, any person providing access or connection to or from an electronic method of remotely transferring information not under that person's control shall not be liable for any action voluntarily taken in good faith to block the receipt or transmission through its service of any information that it believes is, or will be sent, in violation of this section.
(2) Division (F)(1) of this section does not create an affirmative duty for any person providing access or connection to or from an electronic method of remotely transferring information not under that person's control to block the receipt or transmission through its service of any information that it believes is, or will be sent, in violation of this section except as otherwise provided by law.

(3) Division (F)(1) of this section does not apply to a person who conspires with a person actively involved in the creation or knowing distribution of material in violation of this section or who knowingly advertises the availability of material of that nature.

ORC Ann. § 2903.22. Menacing. (2001)
(A)  No person shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the person or property of the other person, the other person's unborn, or a member of the other person's immediate family.

(B)  Whoever violates this section is guilty of menacing. Except as otherwise provided in this division, menacing is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If the victim of the offense is an officer or employee of a public children services agency or a private child placing agency and the offense relates to the officer's or employee's performance or anticipated performance of official responsibilities or duties, menacing is a misdemeanor of the first degree or, if the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to an offense of violence, the victim of that prior offense was an officer or employee of a public children services agency or private child placing agency, and that prior offense related to the officer's or employee's performance or anticipated performance of official responsibilities or duties, a felony of the fourth degree.

(C) As used in this section, “organization” includes an entity that is a governmental employer.

ORC Ann. § 2903.21. Aggravated menacing. (2001)
(A)  No person shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause serious physical harm to the person or property of the other person, the other person's unborn, or a member of the other person's immediate family.

(B)  Whoever violates this section is guilty of aggravated menacing. Except as otherwise provided in this division, aggravated menacing is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the victim of the offense is an officer or employee of a public children services agency or a private child placing agency and the offense relates to the officer's or employee's performance or anticipated performance of official responsibilities or duties, aggravated menacing is a felony of the fifth degree or, if the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to an offense of violence, the victim of that prior offense was an officer or employee of a public children services agency or private child placing agency, and that prior offense related to the officer's or employee's performance or anticipated performance of official responsibilities or duties, a felony of the fourth degree.

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