The Appellate Group

State v. Rashid

State v. Rashid, 2021 UT App 17 (Orme, J.)

Criminal Law

Defendant worked for a private investigator. In his employment, he was instructed to place a GPS tracker on complainant’s car, take photographs of her car and license plate, and follow her leaving work. However, when complainant noticed Defendant following her on multiple occasions, and not knowing he was a private investigator, she became concerned and eventually contacted police. Defendant was convicted of stalking in violation of Utah Code §76-5-106.5. On appeal, he argued that 76-5-106.5 was unconstitutionally vague as applied to him as a private investigator and that the district court erred in excluding his expert witness  who would have testified to correct private investigator practices and procedures. The Court of Appeals affirmed:

  • The stalking statute was not vague; it made “absolutely clear” that someone who “directly” undertook following, monitoring, observing, photographing or surveilling another on two or more occasions could be convicted if the person knew or reasonably should have known that doing so would cause the other to fear for her safety or suffer emotional distress. Additionally, being a private investigator was not a defense to criminal stalking.
  • The district court did not err in excluding Defendant’s expert because there was “no rational connection” between private investigation practices and whether Defendant should reasonably know his actions would cause complainant to fear for her safety.

Read the full court opinion