Stalking is a serious crime that involves one person wanting control over another, leaving the victim living in fear. In many cases, stalking victims know the perpetrator and in most, were involved romantically with their stalker. Federal and state laws prohibit stalking behaviors and have serious penalties tied to the illegal actions with strict stalking charges. Learn more about the Legal Charges for Stalking!
Stalking Charges: Definition
According to Womanspace.org, a persona can face charges for stalking if he or she “purposely and repeatedly follows the victims or a member of the victim’s family and engages in conduct which alarms or annoys the victim or member of the victim’s family.” These actions may include, but are not limited to, sending letters or other items, including emails; making persistent phone calls with or without messages, sending unwanted gifts and threatening the safety of the victim and his or her family.
Stalking Charges: Elements of stalking
According to the State Attorney’s Office of Cook County, Illinois there are two elements of a stalking crime. The first element is being followed or under surveillance more than once. The second element is threatening bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint by your stalker. Documentation and proof of these two elements will help the victim obtain an order of protection against the stalker. In most cases, stalking charges are not filed until the order of protection is violated. When charges are filed are determined by the seriousness of the stalking and the potential for bodily harm.
State laws and Charges for Stalking
Each state has its own laws regarding stalking and what charges can be brought forth. All states carry severe penalties for those facing charges for stalking. Penalties may include, but is not limited to, prison time and high fines. Repeated offenses resulting in additional charges, including violation of protection orders, will increase the amount paid in fines and lengthen any prison sentences.
Check with your local courthouse, victim’s advocate or police department for more specifics about your area’s stalking laws. From there, you can determine your course of action and the levels of legal protection available to you.
Federal laws and Charges for Stalking
Though each state has its own stalking laws, there are several federal laws which make stalking a federal crime. Federal laws cover general stalking, domestic violence and stalking and cyberstalking. These laws cover any actions by the perpetrator which “places that person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to that person, an immediate family member of that person or a spouse or intimate partner of that person. Federal laws also cover repeated unwanted communications which leave the victim in fear of what is going to happen next.
Cyberstalking laws have been passed by the federal government and many local governments to recognize the use of modern technology to keep tabs on the victim. These laws are designed to cover harassment via the Internet, text messages, phones and emailing.
Those facing federal charges of stalking can be sentenced to five (or more) years in prison and forced to pay fines up to $250,000.
As a victim of a stalking crime, you have the right to seek court ordered protection. Your local police department and court house can help you file for an injunction or order of protection against your stalker. Local victim’s assistance groups can help you move past the harmful activities and join you at any future court proceedings.
Document every action your suspected stalker makes and keep all forms of communication as evidence. You may need multiple forms of documentation when appearing in court for your order of protection and/or stalking charges against the other party.
Take notes, including dates and times you saw your stalker following you and/or showing up at the same location as you do. Write down every time you receive a phone call, voice mail, text message or email from your stalker. The best thing you can do it to not respond and act naturally. Your stalker wants the thrill of your living in fear or being upset. Do not give him or her the satisfaction of knowing their actions are bothering you.
If you feel you are being stalked, it is important you contact the police immediately. The longer you wait, the more harm your stalker can cause to you, your family and your property. Be proactive and take action immediately. Stalking charges are created for you. Stalking charges are on your side!