Stalking encompasses several types of behavior that includes conduct or a particular behavior with the intent to cause someone fear or harm. In NYC stalking charges can include first, second, third, or fourth degree.
1. First-Degree Stalking is a Class D felony and can carry prison time of up to seven years.
2. Second-Degree Stalking is a Class E felony, and the sentence can be as much as four years in prison.
3. Third-Degree Stalking is a Class A misdemeanor. Jail time could be as much as a year.
4. Fourth-Degree Stalking is a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted, you can be sentenced to jail for 90 days.
However, it is not as simple as being charged with one degree or another. It is also possible to be charged with First-Degree Stalking if you are charged with Third-Degree Stalking or Second-Degree Stalking depending on the circumstances.
This is one of the reasons it is extremely important to consult with a criminal lawyer who is familiar with stalking laws. Not only can you receive jail time if you are convicted of stalking, but you could incur hefty fines as well as paying restitution, and you will have a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life.
What Constitutes Stalking?
Stalking can be as simple as contacting someone who does not want you to contact them and has made their wishes clear. Most of the time stalking causes someone to believe their safety is in jeopardy. It can also include the following:
2. Following someone or their friends or family
3. Trespassing or entering someone’s home with the intent to spy on them
4. Burglarizing a home
5. Loitering in the vicinity of the home (for example, across the street)
6. Violating an order of protection
7. Attempting to communicate with someone by telephone or social media after being told to stop
8. Attempting to touch someone or cause them physical harm
9. Kidnapping or killing someone’s pet
Defenses to Stalking Charges
How can an attorney help if you have been accused or arrested for stalking? In order for prosecutors to prove and prosecute you for stalking, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted maliciously. This is why it is so important to consult with a lawyer who has experience in these types of charges. They can gather evidence to try to help prove that you did not act maliciously.
A lawyer will look at all the facts and decide which course of action is best. They can investigate the relationship between the parties involved. If there are circumstances that may come into play, such as the defendant and his or her accuser are divorcing or are both seeking custody of a child, this can help with the defense. It may create doubt that there was an actual stalking charge. Have false accusations been made to have a better chance of gaining custody?
An attorney will also look at the facts being presented as to when the alleged stalking occurred. Where was the defendant at that time? Do they have an alibi that puts them elsewhere? Did the alleged stalking occur once or more than once? If the incidents were weeks apart, there is a question of whether this is actually considered stalking.
What was the defendant’s state of mind at the time? The “burden of proof” must be met, meaning the state must prove that the defendant was acting maliciously and caused the victim to believe they would be harmed or killed. If there was no intent with malice, even if there was a confrontation, this is not considered stalking.
There are many ways an attorney can help to prepare a defense if you have been accused of stalking someone. He or she can investigate any evidence and talk to witnesses. There may be enough evidence in your favor to try and get your charges dismissed.
Often other charges are filed in addition to the stalking charges. They could include violation of a protection order, harassment, or domestic violence, depending on the situation. It is crucial that you consult with an attorney to prepare the best defense possible or you could face severe penalties and a criminal record.