Fort Worth Stalking Lawyer
Stalking is a form of harassment and a direct invasion of privacy. Someone commits the offense of stalking if in visual or physical proximity, they send another verbal, written, or implied threats and nonconsensual communication more than once. Even though stalking and harassment are similar in nature, the penalties are different. Changes in state law have expanded the way the statute may be applied, which makes it easier to be charged with the crime.
This is particularly worrisome because stalking is classified as a serious felony offense. If you are charged with stalking, consult a Fort Worth stalking lawyer to learn how to protect your rights. With help from a qualified domestic violence lawyer who understands stalking laws, it may be possible to reach a positive outcome.
Relevant Statutes in Fort Worth
Unlike other offenses that can be charged after a single event, stalking does not occur unless someone commits the offensive actions “on more than one occasion.” The elements of the offense are defined in Texas Penal Code §42.072.
Stalking also requires an individual to be committing these actions as part of the same “scheme or course of conduct.” However, as long as they are considered part of the same scheme, the actions do not have to be the same specific action committed on numerous occasions but may be entirely distinct if they meet the other statutory requirements.
Types of Actions That May Constitute Stalking
There are many types of actions that can be considered to be stalking. For example, repeatedly sending emails, making phone calls, reaching out through social media, or sending gifts are all behaviors that could constitute stalking if, taken together, they create a pattern of threatening conduct. However, under the statutory definition, the conduct must be specifically directed at one person, and must be undertaken “knowingly” to constitute a violation.
Actions that may treated as stalking when it is part of a course of conduct include those which:
- Constitute harassment under Texas Pen. Code §42.07
- The targeted individual feels threatened with bodily injury or death, and damage to property
- Causes an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship with or a member of that person’s family to feel they are in danger of harm, harassment, or death
- The targeted individual to feel harassed, embarrassed, or offended
Under this broad definition, many actions could be treated as stalking behavior. A Fort Worth stalking lawyer can help explain when the law would consider specific actions stalking.
Stalking is treated as a third-degree felony for a first-time offense. If a person has been convicted of a similar offense, even in another jurisdiction, then stalking may be treated as a second-degree felony.
Both second- and third-degree felonies carry a minimum sentence of two years of imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a fine of up to $10,000. The maximum sentence is ten years for a third-degree felony and 20 years for a second-degree felony.
Speak with a Fort Worth Stalking Attorney Today
Allegations of stalking can often arise from simple misunderstandings. Contact a Fort Worth stalking lawyer to learn about your rights and what to avoid doing to improve your chance at a successful outcome.
A dedicated attorney could provide representation at all stages of the proceedings and devise a defense strategy based on the unique circumstances of your case. To get started, call a Fort Worth stalking attorney now.