With the advent and ease of connectivity with technology and social media, stalking may seem inconsequential. Checking up on someone and finding out where they are, who they are with, and how long they were there is easily at users’ fingertips.
However, no matter how normalized stalking may seem, the consequences of being charged can be serious. The prevalence of behaviors that can be deemed as stalking make understanding what truly is considered an offense under the law confusing, and thus those charged with it may be unaware of their legal options.
Due to complicated definitions, it is important to contact a Philadelphia stalking lawyer as soon as possible in order to speak with a professional that understands the laws and defenses of such charges. Speak to an experienced domestic violence attorney to start building your defense.
When thinking about what constitutes stalking, most imagine an individual following closely behind someone or creeping around the surroundings of their house at late hours of the night, looking through windows and taking unnoticed photos. While these behaviors do classify as stalking, under Pennsylvania law, stalking is more broadly defined as any repeated behavior that incites fear and emotional distress in an individual.
While most do not realize it, stalking can be in the way of sending unwanted gifts repeatedly to an individual, calling someone without their approval repeatedly, or even following them around a public space frequently.
The key aspect with charges of stalking in Pennsylvania is that an individual must feel fearful or emotionally distressed as a result of the repeated actions of another whether that be in person or online.
Because stalking can be subjective due to its emotional nature, the line between what can be constituted as stalking and what can be constituted as normal contact can be blurred. In order to avoid getting into a “he said, she said” battle, it would behoove an individual who has been charged with stalking to speak with a Philadelphia stalking lawyer before attempting to fight the charge on their own. There are legitimate defenses to a stalking charge.
Even if you were not physically harmed by the accuser, an acceptable defense to a stalking charge is that you were acting in self-defense as a means to prevent the other individual from harming you first.
Another and important defense to a stalking charge is simply if the accuser lacks evidence that definitively proves that you were stalking them. It is not the case that an accuser can just state that you were stalking them.
The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to provide credible evidence that you participated in repeated behaviors that made them fearful and emotionally distraught. Without substantial evidence, it is difficult for the accuser to build a strong case against you. A well-practiced lawyer could help an individual fight the charges.
While to most, stalking may not seem like a serious offense, the convictions of which can be significant. The sentences for a conviction depend on the severity of the stalking as well as previous criminal convictions.
Charges can start from 90 days in jail as well as a fine if convicted of a summary offense, to being jailed for a year and subject to a larger fine if convicted of a misdemeanor charge to the third degree.
Any length of time in jail can disrupt your personal as well as your professional life and may be avoided with the help of a Philadelphia stalking attorney. Contact a knowledgeable attorney today to gain greater insight into your legal options.