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Stalking: When Love Goes Wrong

With February in full swing and Valentine’s Day upon us, love is in the air. But, what happens when the wind picks up and you get charged with stalking? According to a recent study, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have been the victim of stalking at some point during their lives in which they have felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be injured or killed. The majority of stalking victims report that they have been stalked by someone that they know. In Texas, stalking is generally charged as a 3rd Degree Felony. Conduct that constitutes stalking may take the form of verbal threats, threatening conduct, threatening mail, property damage, continued surveillance of the victim, or following the victim.

Definition of Stalking in Collin County, Texas

In Texas, a person commits stalking if the person, on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engages in conduct that:

  • the person knows or reasonably believes 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 fear that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property; and
  • would cause a reasonable person to fear:
    • bodily injury or death for himself or herself;
    • 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; or
    • that an offense will be committed against the person’s property.

Essentially, the Texas Stalking statute consists of five components. First, the conduct that constitutes stalking must occur on more than one occasion and fall into the same general scheme of conduct. Second, the conduct must be aimed at a specific person. Third, the stalker must engage in conduct that he or she knows the other person will regard as threatening the safety of themselves, their family, or their property. Fourth, the stalker must actually cause the victim to fear for the safety of themselves, their family, or their property. Finally, the stalker’s conduct must be such that it would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety, the safety of their family, or the safety of their property.

Actions that Can be Considered Stalking?

  • You follow a loved one, family member, friend, or coworker
  • You are blamed for a loved one’s property being damaged
  • Your calls, texts, and/or emails are interpreted as threatening or frightening
  • You send gifts to a loved one that are not well received
  • You take other actions that inadvertently frighten a loved one, family member, friend, or coworker

What Should You Do if You are Charged with Stalking?

Many times, the State’s decision to pursue a stalking charge stems from considerable pressure from the alleged victim. Because the conduct required under the Texas stalking statute is very general and may encompass many different activities, many stalking charges are filed due to a simple misunderstanding. The alleged victim may have felt frightened and pressured the State to file charges against you. If you have been charged with stalking or are under investigation for stalking, contact Mark O’Bryan today at (972) 372-4054 for a free consultation.

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