CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — With a new bill being signed into law during West Virginia’s 2023 Legislative Session, a loophole that loosely permitted stalking has been closed.

Senate Bill 132 was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice on Feb. 6 and went into effect 90 days afterward, which was last Tuesday, May 2. The passing of this bill lists stalking as an official crime in West Virginia.

“This is a real win for West Virginia,” said Joyce Yedlosky, one of two Team Coordinators for the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WVCADV). “Stalking is not only terrifying to experience, but it’s a predictor of lethality. Someone who is being stalked by an intimate partner like an ex is at a higher risk of being killed by that person. The risk is actually three times as high on average.”

According to the WVCADV, stalking was once a law in West Virginia but had been removed at least partially. The coalition said that parts of the West Virginia State Code referred to stalking but did not have the act listed as a criminal offense.

Implementation of this new law amends West Virginia’s state code, which now reads: “§61-2-9a (a) Stalking. –  Any person who engages in a course of conduct directed at another person with the intent to cause the other person to fear for his or her personal safety, the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress, or causes a third person to so act, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $1,000, confined in jail for not more than six months, or both fined and confined.”

You can read the full bill here.