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Can Stalking Lead to Criminal Charges in Texas?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Frisco stalking charges defense lawyerThe term stalking may conjure up images of someone following another person, sending excessive emails, or constantly calling them on the phone. Similar to domestic abuse, stalking is a crime that is all about control and power. Stalking is broadly defined as “conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated visual or physical proximity, non-consensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS),1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have been the victim of during their lifetime.

Common Stalking Behaviors or Actions

Under the Texas Penal Code, the offenses of harassment and stalking are very closely linked. Stalking can best be described as aggravated harassment. However, harassment charges can come after a single act. On the other hand, stalking charges may be filed against a person who repeatedly (on more than one occasion) engages in conduct that would constitute harassment or that causes another person to fear for his or her own safety or the safety of his or her loved ones. 

To be considered stalking, a repeated threat can be either implied or explicit, but it must be directed at a specific person. This can be done in person or electronically. In today’s digital age, posting personal information or spreading rumors about someone can be considered cyberstalking. Stalking behaviors may also include any of the following acts: 

  • Repeated instances of leaving or sending the victim unwanted gifts

  • Following or lying in wait for the victim

  • Damaging or threatening to damage the victim’s property

  • Discrediting the victim’s character

  • Threatening the victim via the Internet or other electronic means

  • Making prank phone calls at odd hours to annoy the victim

  • Telling someone that a family member is sick, injured, or dead when this is not true

Texas Punishments for Stalking

The penalties for harassment and stalking can be severe in Texas. In the majority of cases, harassment charges are a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and fines of up to $2,000. The Texas Penal Code states that stalking is a third-degree felony for a first offense. A conviction on stalking charges could result in imprisonment for up to 10 years and $10,000 in fines. A second or subsequent offense is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Contact a Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Many people may think stalking is a harmless act between an admirer and his or her love interest. However, it can lead to serious criminal charges in Texas. If you or someone you know is charged with any criminal offense, a diligent Plano stalking defense attorney can help you avoid a conviction and a criminal record. At the Law Offices of Biederman & Burleson P.L.L.C., we have over 25 years of combined experience defending clients who are facing assault or stalking charges, and we have successfully achieved dismissals and not guilty verdicts for many of them. Call us today at 469-333-3333 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/overview-stalking

https://www.tdcj.texas.gov/divisions/cjad/presentations/Supervising_Stalker_Offenders.pdf

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