What Facts Must Be Present For You To Be Charged With Stalking in Texas?
For you to be charged with stalking in Texas, certain elements must be present to allow the state to make a formal charge.
In Texas, stalking is a malicious behavior occurring more than once or presenting a pattern– a pattern of behavior is present if you (as the stalker) repeatedly follow either openly or discreetly.
However, various types of stalking can occur, such as harassing an individual incessantly or contacting them consistently over the phone, by mail, social media, etc. Another example is repeatedly sending your victim unwanted text or voicemail messages.
One of the main aspects of stalking is that it results in the alleged victim fearing that their safety may be in jeopardy or that they are about to be harmed.
It’s vital to note that in any Texas criminal case, the state prosecution has the “burden of proof” and they must satisfy all of the legal elements needed to convict you of a stalking charge. As the accused (or defendant), you and your criminal defense lawyer don’t have to prove anything.
Simply put, as part of their criminal stalking case, the state’s prosecutor must usually satisfy all of the following legalities:
- You committed harassment on more than one occasion and continue to follow a pattern of behavior.
- You knew that the alleged victim would view your behavior as threatening and could result in bodily injury to them or a family member or damage to their property.
- Your direct action causes the victim, or their family member, to fear imminent bodily injury or possibly even death. Also, they would believe that a crime was imminent against their property, or they felt harassed, annoyed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, etc.
- Your behavior would cause any reasonable person to fear that bodily injury may be imminent and cause them to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, etc.
It may not sound like the prosecution has a simple case to prove, and you may be correct, but you don’t want to take the chance. If you’ve been accused of stalking, the penalties are severe, so consulting with a professional, qualified Collin and Dallas County criminal defense law team is mandatory.
How Severe Are the Penalties for Stalking in Texas?
In Texas, it can be a very serious charge. The state usually charges stalking as a third-degree felony. The minimum penalty for a 3rd degree felony is not less than two and not more than ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Most stalking charges also have a high-dollar bond and will usually prohibit contact with your alleged victim by using an “Emergency Protective Order.”
If you are charged with stalking a second time, your punishment increases to that of a second-degree felony.
Also, it can go even further, and your stalking charge could be compounded (depending on its scope) and may include a “terrorist threat” or a threat to commit a crime of violence. A terrorist threat is a Class B misdemeanor, and more jail time and fines would be added to your already dire penalties.
So, you must get ahead of the prosecution as soon as possible. Consult with a Plano criminal defense law team experienced with stalking charges. They will thoroughly analyze your charge and work immediately and aggressively to protect your rights.
What May Be Some Defenses My Lawyer May Use Against a Stalking Charge?
Stalking can be a vague charge to prove, as intent may be difficult for the state to prove unless physical evidence is present.
However, a possible defense to your stalking charge might be that the behavior in question would not cause any reasonable person to be in fear of bodily injury or death. Your alleged victim may have a motive to exaggerate or lie about what happened to gain an advantage over you if you for some reason. This frequently happens in situations pertaining to child custody cases or divorce.
You need to know that because stalking is a 3rd-degree felony, it must be presented to a grand jury for an indictment to ensure that “probable cause” can be established. The Texas “grand jury” is essentially a filtering stage of the Texas criminal justice system. Your competent, experienced Plano criminal defense lawyer will fully use the grand jury system to ensure your case is presented accurately to obtain a favorable resolution.
So, this phase of your stalking charge is of paramount importance and where your aggressive and knowledgeable criminal defense law team will mount a vital and “preemptive” defense.
I Have Been Charged With Stalking in Texas; What Should I Do?
First, never underestimate the seriousness of a Texas stalking charge! If convicted, and depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be facing life-changing penalties.
However, with the help of a competent, experienced Collin and Dallas County criminal defense law team, you will have the best chance possible to “walk away” or have these types of charges mitigated downward.
Consult your Plano criminal defense law team immediately, as your future rights and freedoms may be on the line.