Stalking is a term that is used a lot these days. Whether it is a traditional act of following someone or tracking their digital footprint, there is little to no tolerance stalking and accusations will often quickly be made. People accused of such actions are protected under the law until they are proven guilty, but it is still one of those crimes where the accused are seemingly guilty until proven innocent.
What is stalking?
Stalking involves a repeated pattern of hurtful or malicious behavior that strikes fear in the victims. It can be such simple acts as:
- Repeatedly showing up a person’s home uninvited
- Following someone by car
- Repeatedly calling someone via phone
- Repeatedly sending texts or emails
- Repeatedly contacting someone through social media
Any of these actions can be annoying yet legal. However, it becomes stalking when there is deemed to be a pattern.
The details of each case are different, but stalking is generally punishable by the following guidelines:
- Class A misdemeanor if it is a first offense, which can mean up to nearly a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
- If the offense is charged again within seven years, it becomes a Class E felony, which involves a year to six years in prison and fine of up to $3,000.
- If the charges involve the same victim within seven years, the charges are a Class C felony, which involves 3 to 15 years in prison and fine of $10,000.
Charges are escalated to “aggressive stalking” if the person charged displays a deadly weapon, the alleged victim is a minor, there is a credible threat to the alleged victim or the person charged was under a restraining order at the time.
These charges need to be taken seriously
It is human nature to assume that the innocent have nothing to be afraid of when facing charges. This is a mistake. Those facing charges of stalking need to aggressively fight back to protect their innocence, their reputation, as well as their future. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can guide individuals and families through this process to ensure that a client’s rights are protected and the charges involved fit the actual (if any) crime.