The federal government and all 50 states, including Texas, have laws that criminalize stalking, although the definition of stalking can vary by jurisdiction. Stalking/Aggravated Stalking appears in the Texas Penal Code right after the separate crime of harassment, but the two offenses can be very similar in the alleged conduct involved and stalking can involve an alleged offender committing the crime of harassment.
The one major difference between harassment and stalking is that the former is a misdemeanor while the latter is a felony. Stalking charges may be aggravated when an alleged offender has been previously convicted of the same offense in Texas or another jurisdiction.
Stalking/Aggravated Stalking Defense Lawyer in Plano, Allen, Frisco, and McKinney, TX
Were you or your loved one recently arrested for an alleged stalking offense in Plano? Do not try to explain yourself to authorities until you have legal representation.
You will want to be sure that you contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy. Our firm can discuss all of your legal options with you when you call (469) 304-3422 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
Stalking/Aggravated Stalking Charges in Collin County
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.07(a), a person commits the crime of harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another, they:
- initiate communication and in the course of the communication make a comment, request, suggestion, or proposal that is obscene;
- threaten, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the threat, to inflict bodily injury on the person or to commit a felony against the person, a member of the person’s family or household, or the person’s property;
- convey, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the report, a false report, which is known by the conveyor to be false, that another person has suffered death or serious bodily injury;
- cause the telephone of another to ring repeatedly or make repeated telephone communications anonymously or in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another;
- make a telephone call and intentionally fail to hang up or disengage the connection;
- knowingly permit a telephone under the person’s control to be used by another to commit a harassment offense; or
- send repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.
Texas Penal Code § 49.07(b)(1) defines electronic communication as “a transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical system” that includes a communication initiated through the use of electronic mail, instant message, network call, a cellular or other type of telephone, a computer, a camera, text message, a social media platform or application, an Internet website, any other Internet-based communication tool, or facsimile machine, and a communication made to a pager. Obscene is defined under Texas Penal Code § 49.07(b)(3) as meaning “containing a patently offensive description of or a solicitation to commit an ultimate sex act, including sexual intercourse, masturbation, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus, or a description of an excretory function.”
Harassment is a Class B misdemeanor, but it is a Class A misdemeanor if the alleged offender was previously been convicted of harassment or the offense involved sending repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another, and was committed against a child under 18 years of age and either with the intent that the child commit suicide or engage in conduct causing serious bodily injury to the child, or the alleged offender has previously violated a temporary restraining order or injunction issued under Chapter 129A, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Texas Penal Code § 49.072 establishes that a person commits the crime of stalking if they, on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engage in conduct that:
- constitutes an offense under Texas Penal Code § 42.07, or that the alleged offender knows or reasonably should know the other person will regard as threatening bodily injury or death for the other person, bodily injury or death for a member of the other person’s family or household or for an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship, or that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property;
- causes the other person, a member of the other person’s family or household, or an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship to be placed in fear of bodily injury or death or in fear that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property, or to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended; and
- would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or death for himself or herself, fear bodily injury or death for a member of the person’s family or household or for an individual with whom the person has a dating relationship, fear that an offense will be committed against the person’s property, or feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended.
Stalking is a third-degree felony, but it becomes a second-degree felony if the alleged offender has previously been convicted of stalking in Texas or of a similar crime under the laws of another state, the laws of a federally recognized Indian tribe, the laws of a territory of the United States, or federal law.
Stalking/Aggravated Stalking Penalties in Texas
Harassment and stalking have very different consequences for convictions. Convictions in these cases are generally punishable as follows:
- Class B Misdemeanor — Up to 180 days in jail and/or fine of up to $2,000
- Class A Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or fine of up to $4,000
- Third-Degree Felony — Up to 10 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000
- Second-Degree Felony — Up to 20 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000
Stalking crimes can result in far longer prison sentences and much steeper fines. The effects of the criminal records created by these convictions can also be devastating in matters concerning housing, employment, or professional licensing.
The Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code also allows victims to file actions to recover monetary damages against alleged stalkers.
Stalking/Aggravated Stalking Defenses in Collin County
Many people are charged with stalking when harassment may have been the more appropriate charge. An experienced lawyer will know how to examine the evidence a prosecutor has fight for a reduction in the charges.
Some charges could even be completely dismissed when an alleged offender has been the victim of false allegations. Some charges may be the result of a complaint filed by an alleged victim when the evidence clearly reflects that an alleged offender did not engage in any prohibited conduct.
Stalking/Aggravated Stalking Resources in Texas
The Stalking Resource Center | Texas — The Stalking Resource Center (SRC) was the creation of a National Center for Victims of Crime partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. Its mission is “to enhance the ability of professionals, organizations, and systems to effectively respond to stalking.” Learn more about local resources, protection orders, and civil stalking laws on this website.
Stalking | Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — According to the Supplemental Victimization Survey (SVS), individuals are classified as stalking victims if they experienced at least one of these behaviors on at least two separate occasions and feared for their safety or that of a family member as a result of the course of conduct, or experienced additional threatening behaviors that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. The SVS measured stalking behaviors as making unwanted phone calls, sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or e-mails, following or spying on the victim, showing up at places without a legitimate reason, waiting at places for the victim, leaving unwanted items, presents, or flowers, and posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth. The BJS found that an estimated 14 in every 1,000 persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking during a 12-month period and approximately half (46 percent) of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week with 11 percent of victims saying they had been stalked for five years or more.
Find a Collin County Stalking/Aggravated Stalking Attorney | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you or your loved one were arrested for an alleged stalking offense in Plano or another location in Collin County, you must find yourself legal representation without delay. Make sure you contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.
Our firm will fight to help you achieve the most favorable possible outcome to your case resulting in the fewest penalties. Call (469) 304-3422 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.