If you’ve been charged with stalking, you could be facing jail time, if convicted. Stalking is the act of willfully following or maliciously harassing another person. In some cases, this can involve direct or indirect threats or even causing a person to have a reasonable fear of bodily harm or death. For most first-time offenders, stalking charges are misdemeanors and could potentially land them in jail for up to one year if convicted. Fines and additional penalties may also be associated with the conviction. If there were weapons involved or a violation of a restraining order, the charges could get more serious. The most important thing to do after any charge involving stalking is to contact your lawyer immediately.
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Repeated Following and Harassing
A stalking charge isn’t usually associated with a one-off chance meeting with somebody. Stalking is the act of repeatedly following a specific person. This can include harassment or other forms of behavior that could make a person very uncomfortable, upset or even fear for their safety or life. In some cases, destruction of property or threats are involved. While the circumstances can vary from case to case, one thing remains the same. There is a repeated fixation and obsession with the alleged victim.
Misdemeanor or Felony Stalking Charges
Depending upon the unique details of your individual case, you could be facing either misdemeanor or felony stalking charges. For first-time non-violent offenders, the charge is typically a misdemeanor. You could be facing up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. If the charge involves a weapon, you could be looking at aggravated stalking, which is a felony. This charge could land you in prison for up to five or six years with fines up to $3,000 or $4,000. Vulnerable victims, such as minors, could also increase the severity of the charges and potential penalties involved.
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What About Cyberstalking?
It’s important to note that with our ever-increasing digital landscape, that a lot of stalking can take place online. Cyberstalking usually includes the use of email or some type of digital or electronic communication, which is threatening or repetitive in nature. It’s possible to face felony charges associated with cyberstalking. Any electronic threat made against a person or his or her family members or loved one could potentially be considered cyberstalking. Just because an exchange takes place online, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be held accountable for it later on, so be careful about what gets email and posted on social media. It can be difficult to convey frame-of-mind or intent over the Internet.
Penalties of Stalking Conviction
If convicted of a misdemeanor stalking charge, you could spend up to one year in jail. This is in addition to fines. If convicted of a felony stalking charge, you’re looking at multiple years in a correctional facility, expensive fines and potentially probation, parole or other penalties associated with the crime. Getting in touch with a lawyer is the only way to ensure the best possible outcome for your case, so after any arrest involving stalking charges, whether they’re misdemeanors or felonies, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case.
Know Your Rights
If you’ve been arrested, it’s critically important to know your rights. You do not have to talk to investigators, law enforcement officers or interrogators after an arrest. In fact, you shouldn’t. Don’t fall into the mental trap of wanting to look helpful or speaking with them to avoid “looking guilty.” There is nothing guilty about exercising your right to remain silent and your right against self-incrimination. All you have to do is politely decline to answer any questions until you’ve had a chance to speak with your lawyer.
When to Contact a Jackson Criminal Defense Lawyer
A stalking charge can be incredibly damaging to your record and your good name. This type of charge can scare aware employers and others who might be interested in background checks. When we typically think of stalking, images of movie villains often pop into our minds. Your best shot at fighting stalking charges, even if they’re just misdemeanor charges, is getting a good criminal defense attorney on your side after an arrest. It can mean the difference between a criminal record and a potentially clean slate.
If you or a loved one is facing stalking charges in or around the Jackson Metro Area, contact the skilled and proven criminal defense team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC at (601) 265-7766 for an immediate case consultation.