What is Stalking under Texas Law?
The Bureau of Justice Statistics, which is a part of the Office of Justice Programs in the United States Department of Justice, recently published an analysis of 2019 stalking characteristics. Their 2019 Supplemental Victimization Survey to the National Crime Victimization Survey, estimated that almost 3.4 million individuals at least 16 years of age or older were stalking victims. Moreover, less than 29 percent of stalking victims filed a police report. According to the survey results, women were stalking victims more than two times as often as men.
Stalking included traditional methods as well as the use of various types of technology. Among stalking victims, approximately 67 percent were afraid that the stalker was out to kill them – or at least harm them physically.
There is no question that criminal stalking charges and convictions are serious. If you are facing a stalking charge, it is important that you have knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorneys on your side representing you throughout your case. The Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers at Cofer Luster Law Firm can explain all of your legal options to you and help you plan a strong defense against your criminal stalking charge. We will work hard to help you obtain the best possible result in your criminal case.
Elements of a Criminal Stalking Charge in Texas
In Texas, stalking is a type of malicious behavior that occurs repeatedly. In many instances, a stalker repeatedly pursues someone or follows them discreetly. However, there are other types of stalking that can occur, such as repeatedly harassing an individual or contacting them over the phone, by mail, or via the internet. Moreover, some stalkers repeatedly send their victims unwanted text or voicemail messages. As a result of these incidents, alleged victims might fear for their own safety or believe that they are about to be harmed.
In a Texas criminal case, the state prosecutor has the legal burden of proof. This means that the prosecutor must satisfy all of the legal elements of the charge. The accused individual, known as the defendant, does not need to prove anything.
As part of their criminal case for stalking, a prosecutor would need to satisfy all three of the following legal elements:
- The stalker committed the offense of harassment on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct
- The stalker knew or had a reasonable belief that the alleged victim would view the behaviors as threatening bodily injury or death for the victim, their family member, or that an offense would be committed against their property
- Causes the other person or their family member to be placed in fear of imminent bodily injury or death, or in fear that an offense will be committed against their property, or to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended
- The behavior would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury for himself or a family member, fear an offense against their property, or to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended
If you are currently facing a criminal stalking charge, a knowledgeable Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer at Cofer Luster Law Firm could advance one or more legal defenses on your behalf and do everything possible to challenge the state prosecutor’s evidence.
Potential Penalties upon Conviction
In Texas, stalking is usually a third-degree felony. The minimum range of punishment is not less than two years or more than ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. A stalking charge likely comes with hefty bond conditions prohibiting various types of contact with the victim and an Emergency Protective Order. If the charged offender has a previous stalking conviction, the range of punishment increases to that of a second-degree felony.
Finally, stalking could involve a terrorist threat or a threat to commit a crime of violence – in order to place the alleged victim in apprehension of serious bodily harm. A terrorist threat is a Class B misdemeanor, and if the offender sustains a conviction, they could receive a maximum jail time of six months, along with a maximum $2,000 monetary fine.
Call a Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
The knowledgeable legal team at Cofer Luster Law Firm is ready to assist you with every aspect of your criminal stalking case. For a free case evaluation and legal consultation, please call us at 682-777-3336 or contact us online for more information.