The federal government and all 50 states, including Texas, have laws that criminalize stalking, although the definition of stalking can vary by jurisdiction. Stalking appears in the Texas Penal Code right after the separate crime of harassment, but the two offenses can be very similar in the alleged conduct involved and stalking can involve an alleged offender committing the crime of harassment.
The one major difference between harassment and stalking is that the former is a misdemeanor while the latter is a felony. Stalking charges may be aggravated when an alleged offender has been previously convicted of the same offense in Texas or another jurisdiction.
Were you or your loved one recently arrested for an alleged stalking offense in Plano? Do not try to explain yourself to authorities until you have legal representation.
You will want to be sure that you contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy. Our firm can discuss all of your legal options with you when you call (469) 304-3422 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.07(a), a person commits the crime of harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another, they:
Texas Penal Code § 49.07(b)(1) defines electronic communication as “a transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical system” that includes a communication initiated through the use of electronic mail, instant message, network call, a cellular or other type of telephone, a computer, a camera, text message, a social media platform or application, an Internet website, any other Internet-based communication tool, or facsimile machine, and a communication made to a pager. Obscene is definded under Texas Penal Code § 49.07(b)(3) as meaning “containing a patently offensive description of or a solicitation to commit an ultimate sex act, including sexual intercourse, masturbation, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus, or a description of an excretory function.”
Harassment is a Class B misdemeanor, but it is a Class A misdemeanor if the alleged offender was previously been convicted of harassment or the offense involved sending repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another, and was committed against a child under 18 years of age and either with the intent that the child commit suicide or engage in conduct causing serious bodily injury to the child, or the alleged offender has previously violated a temporary restraining order or injunction issued under Chapter 129A, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Texas Penal Code § 49.072 establishes that a person commits the crime of stalking if they, on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engage in conduct that:
Stalking is a third-degree felony, but it becomes a second-degree felony if the alleged offender has previously been convicted of stalking in Texas or of a similar crime under the laws of another state, the laws of a federally recognized Indian tribe, the laws of a territory of the United States, or federal law.
Harassment and stalking have very different consequences for convictions. Convictions in these cases are generally punishable as follows:
Stalking crimes can result in far longer prison sentences and much steeper fines. The effects of the criminal records created by these convictions can also be devastating in matters concerning housing, employment, or professional licensing.
The Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code also allows victims to file actions to recover monetary damages against alleged stalkers.
Many people are charged with stalking when harassment may have been the more appropriate charge. An experienced lawyer will know how to examine the evidence a prosecutor has fight for a reduction in the charges.
Some charges could even be completely dismissed when an alleged offender has been the victim of false allegations. Some charges may be the result of a complaint filed by an alleged victim when the evidence clearly reflects that an alleged offender did not engage in any prohibited conduct.
The Stalking Resource Center | Texas — The Stalking Resource Center (SRC) was the creation of a National Center for Victims of Crime partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. Its mission is “to enhance the ability of professionals, organizations, and systems to effectively respond to stalking.” Learn more about local resources, protection orders, and civil stalking laws on this website.
Stalking | Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — According to the Supplemental Victimization Survey (SVS), individuals are classified as stalking victims if they experienced at least one of these behaviors on at least two separate occasions and feared for their safety or that of a family member as a result of the course of conduct, or experienced additional threatening behaviors that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. The SVS measured stalking behaviors as making unwanted phone calls, sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or e-mails, following or spying on the victim, showing up at places without a legitimate reason, waiting at places for the victim, leaving unwanted items, presents, or flowers, and posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth. The BJS found that an estimated 14 in every 1,000 persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking during a 12-month period and approximately half (46 percent) of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week with 11 percent of victims saying they had been stalked for five years or more.
If you or your loved one were arrested for an alleged stalking offense in Plano or another location in Collin County, you must find yourself legal representation without delay. Make sure you contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.
Our firm will fight to help you achieve the most favorable possible outcome to your case resulting in the fewest penalties. Call (469) 304-3422 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.