You've Been Accused Of Stalking - Now What?
Stalking is a serious charge, and facing related charges is no joke. Though California was the first state to make stalking a crime, all 50 states have followed suit. While laws differ from state to state, most stalking cases involve the intent to harass, intimidate, frighten, or cause distress another individual. Typically, stalking is a misdemeanor unless it is especially threatening, involves a threat to cause harm, or is a second offense.
What Qualifies as Stalking?
Stalking often involves following somebody or showing up at the victim's home, work, or school unwanted, but it can also go much further. Stalking charges may involve monitoring of technology, including the phone or computer. They may involve the use of a GPS device or sending unwanted items to an individual in the mail. Stalking may include taking unwanted photos or videos in addition to damaging property.
What is the Penalty for Stalking?
The penalty for stalking differs from state to state. California has some of the harshest laws on the books with up to five years of imprisonment for a felony conviction. In some cases, the individual convicted of stalking could register as a sex offender.
Defenses Used Against Stalking
Stalking charges may be hard to combat, but there are several different type of defenses to use.
Your lawyer may argue that the prosecution was unable to prove the stalking charges beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a basic maneuver that is not based on the fact that you are innocent of charges but that you are not proven guilty.
Your lawyer may also work to create a case revolving around the concept that the victim is lying. This is not unheard of. Stalking cases in the past have been based on a false idea simply to get the other individual in trouble.
Some cases involve misidentification of the stalker. The attorney may prove that the wrong person is being charged with stalking and seek to prove that a different individual is responsible.
In some cases, the lawyer may prove that the threat made against the victim was not credible. Perhaps it was not realistic enough to cause fright, or maybe it wasn't something that the defendant could ever actually carry out. Perhaps the words that were said could be considered free speech protected by the Constitution.
If You Are Accused of Stalking
If you have been accused of stalking, your first step should be to call a law firm to retain a lawyer. Never try to reach out to your accuser or anybody related to them, as this can make the case worse. Additionally, it is wise not to speak with law enforcement or hand over evidence without an attorney present.