Your Stalking Defense Attorney Can Help Fight for You
Stalking is against the law in all 50 states, yet many people do not know what constitutes “stalking” or how easily they could be accused of it. If you are facing allegations or charges of stalking, your next move should be to call an experienced defense attorney. You can do so by reaching out to Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 for immediate help.
The Three Elements Required to Prove a Charge of Stalking
In order for the prosecution to prove the defendant is guilty of stalking, they must show that the defendant:
- The defendant is guilty of willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly harassing or following the alleged victim
- The defendant made a credible threat against the victim in writing, verbally, on an electronic device, or otherwise
- The defendant intended for the threats to scare the victim and make them fear for their own safety or the safety of others
If the prosecution is not able to prove just one of these three elements then they have not met the requirements of proving their stalking case.
Stalking Requires Two or More Sets of Acts Against the Victim
While it is still against the law to alarm, terrorize, intimidate, torment, or threaten someone’s safety, it does not qualify as stalking if there was a single incident. This crime requires that there was a repetition of at least two or more series of acts against the alleged victim.
Examples of Stalking
There are a number of actions that can lead to a charge of stalking including:
- Following the alleged victim
- Unwanted communication including texts, phone calls, voice mails, or emails
- Sending unwanted gifts
- Gather excessive information about the alleged victim
A Note About Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking is a relatively new crime but governmental agencies are generally aggressive in their prosecution of it and other computer crimes. Examples of cyberstalking can include:
- Posting false information about the alleged victim
- Sending threatening or obscene emails to the alleged victim or their family members
- Ordering goods or services in the alleged victim’s name
- Posting serious threats with the intention of encouraging others to take criminal action
Stalking Crimes Are Wobbler Offenses with the Potential for Serious Consequences
Stalking is a wobbler offense in California, which means it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on where the alleged stalking occurred, whether it involved a restraining order violation, the criminal background of the accused, and other factors. The potential penalties can include:
- Misdemeanor charges can result in up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
- A felony conviction can result in a maximum of five years in state prison and up to $1,000 in fines.
- Interstate stalking is a federal felony and can result in a maximum of five years in federal prison along with significant fines.
Defense Options Against Charges of Stalking
The best defense to your stalking charges will depend on the specifics of the case. However, some of the most commonly used defenses against stalking include:
- Showing the threat you were making was not credible
- Proving that your conduct was neither willful nor malicious
- Arguing that your conduct was not as serious as the definition of harassment
- Providing evidence that your conduct was protected by the First Amendment
No matter what the specifics of your case are, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You can do so easily by calling Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 for help.