Stalking is the act of intentionally following or harassing another person. A victim of a stalker may live in fear and suffer great anxiety due to their stalker. Stalkers can include former spouses, ex-partners, and strangers. Even if the stalker claims that they are romantically interested in the person they are stalking, it is generally still considered harassment. Stalking statutes have ultimately become vital protections that help shield people from threatening or harassing behavior in a variety of circumstances. In the state of Minnesota, stalking is considered a serious offense.
While the crime may only be an annoyance for some victims, it can cause an exceptional amount of fright and fear for others. It even has the potential to cause physical symptoms due to the amount of stress the victim may suffer. While movies and television have glamorized stalking behavior, it is important to understand that this is not reality. In reality, the unwanted attention is actually considered a federal crime with serious consequences that should be taken into consideration. Stalking behaviors include following someone or waiting for them in a place you know they will most likely be, sending gifts or letters when you know they are unwelcome, and making persistent phone calls when the victim has made it clear that they do not welcome the attention. While it is obvious that making a plan to hurt someone or damage their property is against the law due to the emotional distress you may cause them, it is important to realize and be aware that it is also against the law to visit the home of the victim or send electronic messages persistently when the person has made it clear that the messages are not welcome.
Minnesota has an anti-stalking law that prohibits harassing another person by taking part in intentional conduct in a manner that would make the victim feel frightened, threatened, or persecuted. Stalking is a gross misdemeanor that is punishable up to one year in jail time by committing a variety of acts. These acts can include constantly calling another person, returning to the property of another without authority to do so, following or pursuing another, or manifesting a purpose to cause harm to the person or their property.
Under certain circumstances, stalking may even be considered a felony. In this case, the act of stalking is punishable up to ten years in prison. It is considered a felony if the perpetrator possesses a weapon at the time the offense was committed, if the perpetrator commits a harassment offense due to the victim’s age, disability, race, color, religion, sex, etc., or if a harassment offense is committed within ten years of a domestic violence related offense.
The way a person perceives the behaviors listed by federal law will ultimately be the determining factor of whether they consider themselves to be a victim of stalking. When a person is accused of the act of stalking, they typically have the burden of proof as opposed to the accuser. Since this is generally the case, innocent and harmless actions are much more difficult to defend in the court of law.
If you feel as though you have been the victim of stalking or you have been accused of the act of stalking, it is important for you to consult an experienced attorney that can help you with your case. Whether you didn’t realize what you were doing was against the law or if you are the innocent one with the charges against you, we can help. Stalking is a serious offense and treated as such by Minnesota criminal courts. When you are up against a stalking charge, you need an advocate by your side to ensure your rights are protected and working towards the best possible outcome in court.
If you are facing a stalking charge, contact us. We will help you defend your case in court.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.