College Park Stalking Lawyer
You may have heard the term “stalking” before, but you could still be surprised if a police officer accuses you of violating that law. Typically, stalking is a course of conduct that involves following someone around and doing something that makes that person fearful of their safety. Unfortunately, the law may misconstrue your behavior. A misunderstanding could lead to severe charges which may affect your life.
An aggressive prosecutor may attempt to put you in jail based on accusations from another person. You need to know your rights and protect yourself. A College Park stalking lawyer may be able to help. The criminal process can be confusing and move quickly.
Though you may have heard that you have the right to an attorney, the government may also try to convince you that you do not need one. Make sure you are fully aware of the laws and the process before you make any decisions or deals with a state lawyer.
Stalking Laws in College Park
When a person stalks someone, the government must prove that the person’s behavior was malicious while engaging in a “course of conduct” against another person, as noted in the Maryland Criminal Law §3-802. A course of conduct refers to a pattern of behavior that occurs repeatedly and exhibits a continuing purpose. Malicious means the actor performed the conduct intentionally.
The actor must also have intended to make the alleged victim fearful of at least one of the following:
- Serious physical harm,
- Rape or some other sexual offense,
- Illegal imprisonment,
- Injury to a third party, or
- Serious emotional distress.
Even if the alleged victim was not actually fearful of any of the mentioned actions, the government may still charge an actor if a reasonable person would have been afraid.
Exceptions to Stalking
It is not stalking if the conduct at issue was authorized or required by law or to follow a court order. Also, people fulfilling a commercial purpose, such as collections, is also legal.
Punishment for Stalking
If the court convicts someone of stalking, that is a misdemeanor. The court may sentence that person to up to five years in prison and order that the defendant pays a fine of up to $5,000.
Punishment for Stalking-Related Offenses
Depending on the facts alleged by the supposed victim, the defendant may also face other charges. Because of the requirement of a “course of conduct,” the defendant may have committed other offenses while stalking the alleged victim. This behavior may also have included breaking and entering, intimidation of a witness or trespassing. The penalty for stalking may be separate and distinct from any other related charges.
Other Offenses Similar to Stalking
A police officer may also accuse someone of harassment if that person engages in a course of conduct or one act in public that annoys or causes the victim to be fearful after being asked to stop and with the intent to bother the victim. It is a misuse of telephone facilities and equipment when an actor uses a phone to engage in behavior that bothers or scares a victim. The same can be done with electronic communication, such as texting or emailing.
Learn More from a College Park Stalking Attorney Today
It can be frightening when the police suspect you of engaging in the behavior described above. You may not know what you can do to prevent the possible harms which follow a criminal charge. That is why a College Park stalking lawyer may be your greatest resource in that circumstance.
Schedule an appointment with an attorney at your earliest convenience to learn more about the process, what you can expect and what risks you may face. Your freedom and reputation are precious and should be protected.