The term “stalking” carries with it negative connotations regardless of its context. Pennsylvanians can feel threatened, afraid and not know how to handle a situation where there is a person who they believe is stalking them and will not stop. Often, they will file criminal charges against the person. Law enforcement is obligated to treat these allegations seriously to protect those who say they are being victimized. Still, just because a person says that he or she is being stalked does not make it true. It certainly does not mean that it will warrant a criminal conviction and the accompanying penalties for a conviction. People who have been accused of stalking another person should think about their rights and have legal assistance to provide a defense.
According to Pennsylvania law, stalking happens when a person takes part in certain conduct and continually commits the acts involving another person. That includes following that person without being authorized to do so, at times where there is an intention to cause fear or injury to the other person, or to cause emotional distress to that person. It can also be considered stalking if a person takes part in conduct or continually communicates to the other person at time when the communication is done to place him or her in reasonable fear of having bodily injury or suffering emotional distress.
To be considered stalking, these acts can happen at a location where the communication was made or where they were received. If this happens in more than one jurisdiction, it can be used with other incidents as evidence that the behavior was ongoing. A first offense will be a first-degree misdemeanor. If there is a second or subsequent offense and there was a prior conviction with the same victim or victims, it will be a third-degree felony. In some instances, there is a false report of stalking. The person who gives the false report to implicate another person will be charged with making a false report.
Being accused of and arrested for stalking can cause many problems in a person’s life personally and professionally. The mere idea that a person was stalking another person casts them in a negative light. With the possible penalties and long-term consequences, it is important to understand the value of a strong defense. Perhaps the allegations are false or there was a misunderstanding. Regardless, having legal advice to combat state charges for stalking is key.