Sometimes it can be difficult to know if your advances are welcomed by someone or if they happen to be off putting and unwanted. If you’re not careful with your conduct, both online and offline, you may find yourself facing stalking charges. Stalking, which includes cyberstalking, is taken very seriously and if you are charged with the crime, you can face serious consequences.
What is Considered Stalking?
There are both federal and state laws regarding stalking, but in general, a person is considered to be stalking if they:
- Follow someone.
- Make connections with the person via posts, emails, telephone calls, faxes, text messages or some other form of electronic communication.
- Trace someone on the Internet, track their emails, or decisively follow their other electronic communications.
- If materials are published online about or related to someone, or if they are said to be by that person.
- Entering or hanging around where they live, work, or frequent.
- Interfere with a person’s possessions or property.
- Keep someone under surveillance.
All of these actions are considered stalking by most state laws and they also delve into the realm of cyber-stalking. While you may do some of these actions innocently, you could still be questioned about why you are doing them. However, you may not be charged with stalking unless the person fears you may do physical or mental harm to them.
Penalties for Stalking
If you have done any of these activities and made threats to physically harm someone, cursed at them, or caused someone to fear for their safety, then you could be charged with stalking. By law in Victoria, you could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of a stalking charge. If you feel like you’ve been incorrectly charged, you need to seek help from one of the criminal lawyers in Melbourne.
To be convicted of stalking, there has to be four elements present in the case:
- There has to be a course of conduct.
- The conduct must be a prolonged act or involve several acts.
- The acts must be performed with the intention to cause harm, regardless of whether it is physical or mental. These acts cause the victim to be apprehensive or to fear for their safety (or the safety of someone else).
- The course of conduct represents a continued purpose to the acts.
If one of these four elements is not present, then you may not be convicted of a stalking crime. However, your attorney can look over the information and evidence the police have to determine if the charges are justified. They can then figure out how to defend you against those charges, or they may even determine that the case is frivolous.
Stalking laws also include school bullying, so minors can be charged under state stalking statutes as well if they are following or harassing a schoolmate. If you or your child is charged with stalking, you need to hire a criminal defence lawyer to help defend you as soon as possible.