According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, it’s estimated that 14 out of every 1,000 people over the age of 18 are victims of stalking crimes every year. In addition to physical stalking and harassment, cyberstalking has become more prevalent, resulting in lawmakers taking a closer look at how to better protect innocent citizens from the invasion of privacy and security of stalking. Stalking in Texas is considered a crime with serious consequences says Mick Mickelsen a reputable criminal defense lawyer in Dallas that has experience handling these types of cases. Let’s take a closer look at the stalking laws in Texas and what they mean.
Texas Stalking Laws
Every state in the nation, including the District of Columbia, has enacted stalking laws as a protection for the public. Stalking, in the simplest terms, is an extreme invasion of privacy that can escalate to the point that the victim in the situation feels their safety or life has been threatened. Stalking laws in Texas have been broadened to protect not only the direct victim but also their family, household members and dating partners who might also be affected by the acts of the alleged stalker.
While the prevalence of stalking crimes is a concern, so is the recidivism rate. One study which looked at the recidivism rate for persons convicted of stalking crimes noted that 49 percent of the study participants reoffended, and that the overwhelming majority of those repeat offenses were within the first year.
To help curb recidivism rates, the state of Texas is has made it easier for courts to come down hard on repeat offenders
Offenses categorized as “stalking” are outlined in Texas Penal Code Section 42.072. According to the law, stalking is defined as a person acting in a way in which they knowingly, or should be able to reasonably assume, that their actions and behavior can be perceived as threatening to the point that they cause the other person to have concerns over their own bodily safety or life, as well as the safety of their family, romantic partners or other persons that they may be close to. To be considered stalking, the actions or behaviors must have occurred on at least two occasions.
Texas stalking laws also state that the threat can be either explicit or implied, but they must be aimed at a specific person. It is also considered stalking when the defendant in the case has another person act on their behalf to convey a threat to the victim.
Even though the laws do a thorough job of describing what is meant by “stalking”, there are often misconceptions about the actions and behaviors that are considered stalking and how easily the line can be crossed into criminal activity.
Examples of Stalking
To better illustrate the crimes defined by the law, it proves useful to look at a few specific examples of stalking. For example, sending more than one text message that harasses, torments, offends or embarrasses the recipient is considered harassment – a misdemeanor charge. If these actions continue, or they become threatening in nature whether they’re delivered via text or phone call, the crime can be elevated to a felony stalking charge.
Likewise, repeatedly following a person, sending unwanted gifts or appearing at their workplace are also considered stalking behaviors, even if the actions seem relatively innocent to the perpetrator in the scenario.
It’s also not uncommon for tense or agitated relations to escalate to a stalking offense. It might not be a surprise that vandalizing or threatening the body or property of another person is a crime but consider a situation in which two co-workers have a tense relationship. If on more than one occasion, one of the coworkers tells the other to watch his back or leaves threatening messages or images in their personal workspace, these behaviors can be considered stalking
Stalking Charges and Penalties
The penalties for stalking in Texas are not light. Stalking is considered a felony crime and is therefore treated very seriously. When convicted of stalking, the defendant is looking at third-degree felony charges, if it’s their first offense. Third-degree felony charges carry a possible sentence of 2 to 10 years in prison, plus a substantial fine.
If a person is convicted of a second offense, including if their first stalking offense occurred in another state or U.S. territory, the defendant is facing second-degree felony charges which carry a potential sentence of 2 to 20 years in prison, plus a substantial fine.
When to Contact a Dallas Stalking Law Attorney
If you’re facing charges of stalking in Texas, the first thing you need to do is contact Best Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer Broden & Mickelsen, LLP to review your stalking case. There are a number of defenses that can be leveraged in stalking cases, but only an experienced Dallas stalking law attorney can help win back your freedom. Don’t take chances with your future and contact the legal help you need today.
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case.