I’ve been charged with stalking in New York City, what do I do now?
Stalking charges are very common and criminal defense attorneys are constantly helping their clients fight stalking charges. Nowadays it is so much easier for stalking activities to take place given our widespread access to modern technologies such as smart phones, GPS and the many types of social media that allow us to find, locate and communicate with each other.
Accusations of stalking or other forms of unwanted attention that rise to the level of criminal activity are commonplace in New York State and our firm has assisted many people who have been accused of these crimes. If you are accused of stalking, it can be very stressful and embarrassing for you. You need an attorney who can vigorously defend your case and help you to cope with the other stressful issues that often accompany being arrested and charged with harassment crimes.
What kinds of activities are considered stalking?
Generally, stalking is treated as a form of criminal harassment. The first thing you should know is how complex your case might be and the various factors that go into prosecuting someone who is accused of stalking. This law requires that you, the accused, havengaged in a course of conduct that was intentional, without a legitimate purpose, that is directed at a specific person and you knew or reasonably should have known that your conduct:
- is likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the physical health, safety or property of such person, a member of such person’s immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted; or
- causes material harm to the mental or emotional health of such person, where such conduct consists of following, telephoning or initiating communication or contact with such person, a member of such person`s immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted, and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct; or
- is likely to cause such person to reasonably fear that his or her employment, business or career is threatened, where such conduct consists of appearing, telephoning or initiating communication or contact at such person`s place of employment or business, and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct.
Stalking is broken down into four “degrees” with each degree being progressively more serious.
- Stalking in the fourth degree– this is the general crime of stalking detailed above. This is a Class B misdemeanor.
- Stalking in the third degree– if you have engaged in the type of conduct discussed above but you repeated the crime against 3 or more people on 3 or more separate occasions you may be charged with a more serious form of stalking. You may also be criminally liable for this crime if you have previous convictions for stalking in the past 10 years. This crime is a Class A misdemeanor.
- Stalking in the second degree– if in the course of committing third degree stalking you used a weapon or other dangerous or deadly item to harass or menace the victim and put them in a reasonable state of fear that you would harm them with the weapon you may be criminally liable for stalking in the second degree. This crime is a class E felony and may result in up to 4 years of prison time.
- Stalking in the first degree– if in the course of committing third degree stalking you intentionally or recklessly caused physical harm or injury to the victim or committed additional misdemeanors or felonies, you may be criminally prosecuted for stalking in the first degree. This crime is a Class D felony and may result in up to 7 years in prison.
Any number of actions could qualify as stalking if you do it willfully, maliciously and repeatedly. With the growth in social media and cellular phones, the situation has become even more complicated. Constant phone calls, unwanted emails or text messages and even comments on social media sites can be classified as stalking or the closely related crime of cyber stalking.
Of course, the crime can be committed in real-time if you consistently follow a person or “conveniently” show up in the same place as the victim and you don’t have a good reason for being there. If your presence could only reasonably be interpreted as an intentional that places the other person in fear for their health or safety or that of an immediate family member, it is stalking.
Stalking laws are very complex
Stalking can be a particularly difficult crime to defend against because so many different acts can qualify as stalking. In many cases, you may have done something that seemed totally harmless or innocent only to be arrested and charged with stalking.
Your situation can be further complicated if you were in a romantic or other intimate relationship with the alleged victim.
- In cases where the alleged victim is or was an intimate partner, domestic violence laws may become a factor that could subject you to even greater criminal liability and harsher punishment.
- Certain circumstances could even result in you having to register as a sex offender if the stalking activities lead to rape, molestation or other sex crimes.
In any of these scenarios, you want to hire a criminal attorney who has experience handling the most serious stalking cases and cases of repeat offenders.
Our office knows how to handle even the most serious of stalking cases
George Vomvolakis has the experience and knowledge of a former prosecutor and many years of experience as a private criminal defense attorney. He fully understands that the punishments for stalking or cyber stalking can be quite severe and he knows how combat those charges.
If you are charged with stalking, cyber stalking or any other form of harassment the first and most important thing you can do is not talk to the police. Second, you need to retain a reputable, experienced criminal lawyer immediately. Our office provides free case consultations for all types of stalking related crimes. Don’t face the state alone. We’rere to help!