Is stalking a felony? In Missouri, stalking can certainly become a felony! Missouri code 455.01 defines stalking as “purposely and repeatedly harasses or follows with intent of harassing another adult”. It is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, that is until a second offense. If the offense is repeated within 5 years, it does indeed become a Class D felony. So, to answer the question is stalking is a felony, yes, it can be and is, under certain criteria, a felony. Now the question becomes, what constitutes stalking or harassing?
Harassment And Stalking: When to Get a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Springfield
What constitutes stalking or harassing can be tricky. What one person calls stalking or harassment, another person can claim to be just annoying behavior. If you have a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Springfield, they can offer guidance on local laws. According to the Judicial Education Center at The University Of New Mexico, there are four general types of stalkers:
- Simple Obsessional: This is the most common type of stalker. The stalker is usually a male and the focus of the stalking is an ex-wife, ex-lover, or former boss. In intimate relationships, the stalking frequently starts before the break-up. The stalking can sometimes result from the stalker feeling that he or she has been mistreated by the victim.
- Love Obsessional: In this type of stalking, the stalker is a stranger or a casual acquaintance to the victim. Nonetheless, the stalker becomes obsessed and begins a pattern of behavior as a means of making the person aware of his or her existence. High-profile examples of this type of stalking include when celebrities or public figures become the target. However, this type of stalking can be focused on an “average” citizen as well.”
- Erotomania: In this type of stalking, the stalker incorrectly believes that the person is in love with him or her, and that, but for some external barrier or interference, the two of them would be together. Given that perceived “love” between the stalker and the victim, the stalker can also pose a risk to those persons close to the victim since they may be viewed as “being in the way.”
- False Victimization Syndrome: This involves an individual who either consciously or subconsciously seeks to play the role of the “victim.” As such, the individual may invent a detailed tale in which he or she claims to be a stalking victim. In reality, however, the would-be victim is sometimes the actual stalker and the alleged stalker is actually the real victim. This is an extremely rare form of stalking.
These types of stalking behaviors can occur between people who know each other (intimate relationships) and strangers (non-intimate relationships). The Judicial Education Center also explains these relationships:
- Intimate: “In this type of stalking, the stalker and victim had a former relationship with each other. Oftentimes, the stalker seeks to reestablish a relationship with the victim which has either ended or which the other person has tried to end. It is likely that there is a history of abuse, including domestic violence, by the stalker.”
- Non-Intimate: “Here, the stalker and victim have absolutely no interpersonal relationship with each other. Rather, the stalker may select and focus on the victim following a brief encounter with each other, or merely after observing the victim. The other person is often at a loss to readily identify the stalker once he or she becomes aware of the conduct. “
Now that the types of stalkers and harassers have been described, what constitutes actual stalking and harassing behavior? This kind of behavior includes, but is not limited to:
- Physically following a person on foot or by vehicle
- Appearing unannounced at or driving by a person’s place of work, residence, or school
- Secretly observing a person’s cell phone activity or records, computer activity, or social networks
- Secretly tracking a person by using a GPS locator or by other means
- Sending unsolicited or unwanted gifts, emails, text messages, and mail
- Photographing or videotaping someone without their knowledge or consent
- Making threats to the person, their friends, family, or co-workers, or their pets, or their home and belongings
- Vandalism against a person’s property or home
Basically, any behavior which disturbs, frightens, alarms, or causes anxiety or fear to another person can be considered stalking, especially if it is repeated. If someone does any of these things to another person, and the victim decides to pursue charges, this can be classified as a misdemeanor in Missouri. In Missouri, you can be arrested for these behaviors just on probable cause, no warrant needed. There are all kinds of ways these behaviors can be interpreted. If you feel that you have been arrested unfairly in Springfield, call a Criminal Defense Attorney right away. If you have been arrested for or charged with a Class A misdemeanor for any of these actions, it is important that you retain the counsel of a Springfield Criminal Defense Lawyer immediately. Often a victim can and will get a protective or restraining order if they feel they are being stalked or harassed. If you feel you have business with someone who has a protective order taken out against you, such as legal matters, or child custody matters, it is also a wise decision to get yourself a Criminal Defense Attorney in Springfield to make sure you know your rights and also your restrictions under the protective order. This is very important, as any of the above behaviors, and others, when conducted during a restraining order, could very well land you a Class D felony. A Class D felony comes with prison time. If you are in Springfield, get yourself a Criminal Defense Lawyer to protect yourself in this situation.
To Protect Yourself In Springfield Call A Defense Attorney
We live in an imperfect society. In family matters, relationship matters, and especially divorce, breakup, and child custody situations, things can become volatile pretty quickly. People can easily feel desperate. People can easily become malicious and lie about situations and act disproportionately. If you find yourself being accused of things you believe you are not doing, the best protection is from someone who knows the law. Calling a Springfield Defense Attorney before situations get heated can diffuse many situations before they become matters of criminal charges, misdemeanors, or felonies. A Criminal Defense Lawyer can offer guidance and caution to keep you out of trouble. If you find yourself already being charged with stalking, a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Springfield will do their best to keep you out of jail. Missouri Legal is a criminal law service in Springfield that is dedicated to helping people with their legal needs, call for assistance today!