Charges For Stalking: What You Need To Know
Published November 14, 2022
Stalking used to require a lot of commitment from the culprit as they’d have to follow a person without their awareness for extended periods of time. However, with the advent of the internet, stalking has become much more prevalent, as people no longer have to put in as much effort to stalk someone.
Now, just about anyone can stalk a person through their social media accounts. That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find that you’re somehow a suspect of stalking, even if it’s not your intention.
If that’s the case, then knowing about stalking charges can go a long way in helping you with your case, and this guide can help in that regard. But first, are you truly guilty of stalking, or is it a misunderstanding?
When Is Someone Guilty Of Stalking?
Each state has different laws, and their stalking definition may also vary, but the conviction for stalking cases generally goes like this — someone is only guilty of stalking if they’re causing a person to:
- fear for their safety,
- suffer emotional distress, or
- become extremely disturbed and alarmed.
One may argue that these conditions are not conclusive since a lot of people nowadays can be too anxious. As such, even with the slightest provocation, they may be subject to these terrible experiences.
Imagine a scenario where you recently broke up with your partner. In the past, texting or calling them a bunch of times was likely normal between the two of you. But if you did that after the breakup, it may come off as stalking, as it may cause your partner to believe you’re still pursuing them in some way.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you intended for them to feel that way. It can be an honest mistake on your part. That’s why there are other conditions for the court to convict someone of stalking.
For one, you must have or should have known that your actions would have such an effect on the victim. Otherwise, the court wouldn’t find you guilty as you weren’t aware of your actions’ consequences.
An excellent example of this is when your partner, without your awareness, breaks up with you.
In that case, you were completely unaware that you were no longer together. So, while you may have caused them to feel anxious or fearful, there was no way of knowing that. Hence, you’re not guilty.
However, if it turns out you did intentionally stalk someone, you must be prepared for the consequences.
What Are The Charges For Stalking?
The charges for stalking vary according to the degree and the state, but it generally includes a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison. To start with, you need to know about degrees.
If you’re unaware, in the context of crime, a degree refers to how severe the crime was.
Naturally, the more severe the crime, the heavier the charge. First-degree is the most severe, followed by second-degree, then third-degree, and so on and so forth. Stalking generally has two to three degrees.
The number of degrees depends entirely on the state’s laws. Anyway, here’s a look at each degree:
- Third-degree stalking is usually the least severe type. It’s when you were not completely aware, but should have been, that your actions are causing emotional or mental distress to a person.
- Second-degree stalking is when you’re intentionally causing distress to a person.
- First-degree stalking is when you stalk someone intentionally:
- on a victim that’s under sixteen years of age,
- after you had just been convicted of the same crime, or
- while your actions are violating a court order.
The charges for stalking in the third degree are up to one year in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fines.
The charges for stalking in the second degree are up to five years in prison and/or up to $12,500 in fines.
The charges for stalking in the third degree are up to ten years in prison and/or up to $25,000 in fines.
If you were accused of stalking, then you’ll have to fight a long battle. The good news is there are a lot of things you can do to defend against these accusations and subsequently prevent charges for stalking.
How To Defend Against Stalking Accusations
Your defense against stalking accusations is mostly you trying to disprove the supposed victim’s claim of the crime. In that regard, below are some arguments or scenarios that should defeat charges of stalking:
- The victim identified the wrong individual as the offender.
- There were some inaccuracies in the victim’s story.
- The victim or court cannot prove your involvement in the crime. If the victim told the court you were following them, for example, they need witnesses, photos, or videos to prove that claim.
- You can prove that you didn’t have the slightest intention to harm, stalk, or harass the victim.
Since it’ll be difficult to make these arguments on your own, it’s best to seek the help of a lawyer.
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About The Author
Lenard Arceo is an experienced writer who enjoys coding software when not working. He has been blogging for a number of renowned publications for years. His commitment to writing facts based content has allowed him to help his readers uncover the truth and render justice in their lives.