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What Is the Difference Between Stalking and Harassment?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

TX defense lawyerIn Texas, stalking and harassment are both criminal offenses. You may sometimes hear them used interchangeably, but while they have similarities, they are separate crimes. Harassment is usually a misdemeanor and can be charged based on a single incident. Stalking is generally a third-degree felony and must be based on a pattern of behavior. If you have been charged with either stalking or harassment in Texas, it is important that you take the charges very seriously and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

What Do Stalking and Harassment Have in Common?

Both offenses are considered a form of “mental assault.” This means that both stalking and harassment are a sort of attack on a person that does not involve actual physical violence. In fact, neither offense requires that the perpetrator gets anywhere near the victim - both offenses can be carried out entirely online or over the phone. Harassment and stalking both involve, to varying degrees, frightening or abusing the victim.

What Makes Harassment and Stalking Different?

Harassment is a lesser offense than stalking. While harassment may involve making threats or putting the victim in fear of bodily harm, it does not have to. Harassment is unwanted communication designed to annoy, embarrass, or upset the victim. Sending unsolicited obscene pictures, placing a prank call stating that the victim’s loved one has been injured or playing a prank intended to embarrass the victim could all be examples of harassment.

Stalking involves repeated occurrences of harassment or conduct that puts the victim in fear for their safety or their loved ones’ safety. This does not mean that a direct threat is required - conduct that would place a reasonable victim in fear can be less direct. Patterns of conduct like repeatedly calling after being asked to stop, showing up at the victim’s house more than once, or even sending multiple unwanted gifts, could all be construed as stalking.

There are a number of ways that a person with no malicious intent could find themselves accused of these crimes. Stalking or harassment complaints are sometimes based on a genuine misunderstanding, or stem from a contentious divorce or difficult breakup. If you are being charged with stalking or harassment but never intended any sort of harm, your best bet is to speak to a qualified criminal defense attorney who can help you tell your side of the story.

Call a Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney

The Law Offices of Biederman & Burleson P.L.L.C. understands how easily attempts at communication can escalate into a stalking or harassment charge. If you are accused of one of these crimes, you should get in touch with an experienced Frisco criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can. With your freedom and reputation at stake, you will want to put forth the best possible defense. Call us at 469-333-3333 for a free consultation.

 

Source:

https://withoutmyconsent.org/50state/state-guides/texas/statutory-criminal-law/#stalking

 

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