Stalking is an extreme form of harassment that constitutes a felony offense under Pennsylvania law. The penalties for stalking may include incarceration for up to seven years, depending on the presence of certain aggravating factors.
A Delaware County stalking lawyer may be able to help you build a strong defense if you are accused of stalking.
Aside from incarceration, a stalking conviction can lead to a host of other consequences. These negative repercussions include a permanent black mark on your criminal background, difficulties obtaining jobs in the future, and, if convicted of a felony offense, the loss of some civil rights, such as the right to own firearms. You are likely to be subject to a no-contact or protection from abuse order.
Getting the advice of a tenacious domestic violence attorney may be crucial in avoiding or minimizing the impact of stalking charges on your life.
18 Pa.C.S. § 2709.1 sets forth the criminal offense of stalking. Individuals commit this offense when they engage in a course of behavior or repeated acts aimed at a particular person that would cause reasonable persons to fear physical injury to themselves or others or sustain significant mental or emotional distress. Stalking also may occur when individuals engage in a course of conduct that shows an intent to place others in reasonable fear of bodily harm or cause substantial emotional distress.
Stalking requires proof of a course of conduct, which this statute defines as more than one act over some time that shows a continuity of action. Some examples of behaviors that might constitute incidents making up to a course of conduct for the stalking law include:
A stalking lawyer in Delaware County may be able to help determine whether a specific incident or situation rises to the level of stalking.
Stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor under Pennsylvania law. 101 Pa. Code § 1566 states that conviction for a first-degree misdemeanor may result in a sentence of incarceration of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000.
However, stalking is a third-degree felony if individuals have a prior conviction for stalking or for a crime of violence involving the same alleged victim, family member, or household member that is the subject of the present offense. Crimes of violence include, but are not limited to, assault, reckless endangerment, kidnapping, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and violation of orders of protection or restraining orders.
For a third-degree felony conviction, individuals may receive a prison sentence of up to seven years and a fine of up to $15,000. As the penalties for stalking can be harsh, contacting a seasoned attorney in Delaware County for advice may be wise.
When individuals allege that others have stalked them, they habitually seek a restraining order or an order of protection. These orders require persons to stay away from the individuals named in the order, including staying away from their homes, schools, and places of employment. Essentially, these court orders prohibit all communications between the parties for any reason, unless there is some exception outlined in the order.
Violation of orders of protection is also a crime under Pennsylvania law. Furthermore, prior violation of an order of protection can be a basis for felony stalking charges if the same parties are involved.
The ramifications of a stalking conviction under Pennsylvania law can be severe. Harsh state laws regarding stalking easily can lead to unwarranted stalking charges in the aftermath of a broken relationship, miscommunications, excessive social media contact, and other circumstances. A Delaware County stalking lawyer may be able to help you determine the defense strategy in your case that is right for you.
Many defenses to accusations of stalking may be applicable in your case. Using these may result in the dismissal or reduction of charges in eligible cases. Legal counsel may be able to evaluate your situation and help you determine the best approach for effectively and efficiently handling the charges against you.