Stalking is a term used to describe what transpires when one person is following or harassing another in an annoying or unconsented to manner. Stalking is a crime. Stalking is surprisingly common. Some studies report that around 3.4 million adult Americans are stalked every year.
What Constitutes Stalking?
State laws vary regarding the exact elements of the crime, but most require that it be proven that the alleged stalker:
- or otherwise harassed another person,
- in a way that put them in fear for their safety
Thus, as you can imagine, this can include not only physical stalking, but also cyberstalking through the internet, workplace stalking, and other kinds of harassment which put the victim in fear for their safety. Even within these broader categories, the activities that fall within them can include any number of different sorts of behavior.
Stalking can also be accompanied by other crimes, such as assault or battery, trespassing, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, etc. Each of these crimes requires proof of different elements arising out of the incident(s).
Stalking is a serious crime, and it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the offense and relevant state law. Penalties can include both fines and prison time.
Being Stalked? Get a Restraining Order
If you have been the victim of a stalking, keep in mind that you don't have to wait around for the criminal justice system to prosecute your stalker. Talk to an attorney about obtaining a restraining order, which is a legally enforceable document prohibiting the person from coming within a certain distance of you, your home, or your work. Violators can face potential jail time or other penalties. You may also be able to bring a civil lawsuit against your stalker, in addition to the criminal charges.
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