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Legal Distinction between Stalking and Harassment: Analysis of the Cassation Court Ruling No. 21006 of May 28, 2024

The recent ruling No. 21006 issued on May 28, 2024, by Section V of the Cassation Court provides a clear distinction between the legal frameworks of stalking and harassment, establishing defined criteria for their legal characterization. This judgment enriches the body of case law on the topic, responding to interpretative needs arising from both practice and scholarly discussion.

Legal Context

Differentiating Elements between Stalking and Harassment

Under current law, harassment is punished under Article 660 of the Penal Code, which targets behaviors that, although annoying, do not deeply impact the victim’s psyche. On the other hand, the crime of stalking, governed by Article 612 bis of the Penal Code, includes a series of persecutory acts that cause a lasting and significant impact on the life of the person, inducing a severe state of anxiety or altering the victim’s life habits.

Specific Case Analyzed by the Court

The judgment in question involved a condominium resident accused of repeatedly harassing his neighbors, behaviors that included damage and threats, creating an atmosphere of terror within the condominium. The Court of Appeals had initially reclassified the facts as mere harassment under Art. 660 c.p., sanctioning the accused with a monetary penalty. However, the Supreme Court reiterated that the defendant’s actions constituted the more serious crime of stalking, requiring a more thorough assessment of the psychological consequences on the victims.

Decision of the Cassation Court

Established Principles

The Cassation Court emphasized that the distinction between the two crimes resides not only in the nature of the action but especially in the psycho-physical consequences that these actions provoke in the victims. It is essential to evaluate not just the frequency and intensity of the persecutory actions but also their capacity to significantly destabilize the victims’ quality of life.

Implications for Legal Practice

This judgment clarifies important procedural and substantive issues, directly influencing the handling of harassment and stalking cases within the Italian legal context. It provides lawyers with new insights for defense and prosecution in similar cases, highlighting the importance of detailed evidence collection and careful analysis of the context in which the actions occurred.


The ruling No. 21006/2024 of the Cassation Court sets an important precedent in defining and applying the norms related to persecutory acts and harassment, establishing clear criteria for their distinction. This clarification is poised to positively influence the approach of lawyers in cases of private violence, improving the protection of victims and ensuring that perpetrators are adequately punished based on the severity of their actions.

For a complete understanding of the judgment and its effects on the current legal landscape, it is recommended to consult the full text of the decision and analyze its legal and social implications.