Allegations of Stalking / Aggravated Stalking in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex can arise in a number of situations. A common situation occurs when a relationship ends and one party still wants to maintain contact with the other. In other cases, accusations of stalking are levied with no evidence other than the word of the alleged victim.
Law enforcement officers in Texas have the authority to immediately arrest anyone without a warrant. To do so, the officer must have probable cause that an offense occurred. This means any accusations of Stalking / Aggravated Stalking could immediately result in an arrest, regardless of whether a proper investigation took place.
Stalking or aggravated stalking charges can result in serious penalties and repercussions. However, it is important to know that if you have been charged with a stalking offense, you do not necessarily have to face a conviction.
The state prosecutor must first prove you committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. It is often difficult to meet this burden of proof. If the judge or jury has any doubt you committed any element to your alleged stalking offense, the charges against you may be reduced or even dismissed. Therefore, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Dallas to help you create the best legal strategy for your particular situation.
Stalking / Aggravated Stalking Defense Lawyer in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, TX
If you’ve been charged with stalking or aggravated stalking, Richard McConathy is a Dallas criminal defense attorney experienced in defending these allegations. He has defended thousands of clients since opening the firm in 2002. Richard will fight on your behalf and, when possible, move to reduce or dismiss your charges.
Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas. Our firm will work to potentially get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Stalking Offenses in Fort Worth
Texas Penal Code Section 42.072 contains the statute governing the offense of stalking in Texas. According to this law, an individual can be charged with stalking if they knowingly and repeatedly engage in conduct that the individual:
- knows or reasonably believes will be perceived as threatening to cause bodily injury or death to the alleged victim, a family member or household member of the alleged victim, or another person the alleged victim is dating;
- knows or reasonably believes will be perceived as threatening to cause damage to the alleged victim’s property;
- knows will cause the alleged victim, a family member or household member, or person they are dating to fear death, bodily harm, or property damage;
- knows would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or death to themselves, a family member or household member, or person they are dating; and/or
- knows would cause a reasonable person to fear that damage to their property will occur.
What Is Cyberstalking?
Social media networks such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat allow people to connect and communicate more easily than ever. But they also provide another opportunity for you to be targeted with stalking charges.
Cyberstalking is an offense that’s closely related to Stalking / Aggravated Stalking. Though it’s charged as harassment under Texas Penal Code Section 42.07, it directly precedes the statute governing stalking in the same chapter.
To prove to cyberstalk, the prosecutor must prove you intended to harass, embarrass, alarm, torment, annoy, or abuse someone while engaging in one of the following acts:
- Initiates obscene contact with another person;
- Makes a credible threat of bodily injury against another person, their family, or their property;
- Makes a false report, intended to cause alarm, to another person that someone has died or been seriously injured
- Repeatedly, and with malicious intent, communicates electronically with another person
Simply visiting someone’s social media profile and viewing their photos does not satisfy the elements of harassment or cyberstalking charge.
Harassment is generally charged as a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. However, the accused faces a much more serious Class A misdemeanor charge if they also meet one of the following conditions:
- The accused has previously been convicted of harassment;
- The accused encouraged a child to commit suicide; or
- The accused encouraged a child to cause serious bodily injury.
The maximum penalties for a Class A misdemeanor include a year in prison and a $4,000 fine.
Stalking / Aggravated Stalking Penalties in Dallas
The general penalties and punishments for Stalking / Aggravated Stalking offenses are defined in Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code, and are as follows:
- An individual charged with a first stalking offense can face a conviction for a felony of the third degree, which is generally punishable by two to ten years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- An individual charged with a second or subsequent stalking offense can face a conviction for a felony of the second degree, which is generally punishable by two to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
In addition to the punishments listed above, an individual that has been charged with a Stalking / Aggravated Stalking offense may be subjected to any of the following consequences and penalties:
- A criminal record;
- Inability to apply for certain jobs, occupations or professions;
- Inability to be accepted into certain educational programs;
- Ineligibility to own or possess a gun or firearm;
- Ineligibility to receive certain types of governmental assistance;
- Ineligibility to vote or hold public office;
- Loss of certain professional licenses; and/or
- Public embarrassment or humiliation.