Connecticut Stalking Lawyer
We have seen an increase in Greenwich and Stamford Connecticut Stalking arrests in recent years. Whether it has to do with the growing popularity of internet dating and casual encounter websites like Tinder, Craigslist and sugar daddy dating websites, or whether police are finally making it a priority to enforce these Connecticut Stalking laws which protect individual privacy rights, the bottom line is that following and intimidating another person can be a crime in many circumstances. It can even be a felony.
The best Danbury, Norwalk, Greenwich, and Stamford Stalking lawyers will likely all agree: stalking arrests can escalate very quickly if they are not handled properly by a top Connecticut criminal attorney. Therefore if you have been charged and arrested in Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Greenwich, or Norwalk for stalking, then you should call a top Connecticut Stalking lawyer as soon as you can to fully understand your rights and fight these charges.
Your First Court Date & Arraignment for a Connecticut Stalking Arrest
Your first Stalking court appearance can come as quickly as the next business day following your arrest if the complaining victim is a member of your family or household. Stalking a spouse, other family member, roommate, or intimate partner will automatically designate your Connecticut 53a-181 Stalking arrest as a Connecticut domestic violence crime. In this scenario, expect the following to occur: your arraignment will be the next business day, a Superior Court judge will issue a protective / restraining order against you, and your case will be assigned to the Connecticut domestic violence crime docket. However, if your Greenwich or Stamford Connecticut 53a-181 Stalking arrest does not involve a family member, roommate, or intimate partner, then you will be given a court date that is about 10 days from the date of arrest (that is, assuming you are able to post bond).
Regardless of whether or not your Connecticut Stalking arrest is classified as a domestic violence crime, you will be presented before a Superior Court judge at your first court appearance, which is called the arraignment hearing. Here, the State’s Attorney will ask the Court to issue a criminal protective order (or a restraining order) which will usually forbid you from having any contact with the alleged victim and accuser. The order is called a “Full No Contact Order” and also requires you to stay 100 yards away from the accuser at all time. Take this Connecticut protective / restraining order very seriously during the entire duration of your Stalking case. A violation of this Protective Order can result in a Connecticut arrest for Felony Violation of a Criminal Protective Order under C.G.S. § 53a-223. Alternatively, if a Protective Order is not issued, then sometimes a Superior Court Judge will order you to have no contact with an alleged victim as a condition of your release. Violating a condition of your release is not only a misdemeanor crime under C.G.S. § 53a-222a, but it also provides grounds for the judge to raise your bond on your underlying Connecticut Stalking case and have you sent to jail.
Exactly What Is Stalking?
As many of the top Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford stalking lawyers will tell you, the Stalking Statutes are unfairly broad, ambiguous and subjective. The precise definitions of each degree of Stalking really provide little help to figuring out exactly what kind of conduct is criminal. These laws are not as black and white in definition and scope as drunk driving, speeding, assault, and robbery charges. We therefore routinely advise our clients to be very careful about engaging in any kind of conduct which involves following, staking out, or tailing someone. In fact, we usually insist that they hire a private investigator who is properly trained and licensed in engaging in this type of conduct. A closer look at each degree of the Stalking crime is thus warranted and important as you start to understand your legal rights and options with respect to your Connecticut Stalking arrest.
Stalking in the Third Degree
The least serious Stalking charge in Connecticut is Third Degree Stalking under C.G.S. § 53a-181e. You are guilty of this Stalking crime if you recklessly (as opposed to intentionally or deliberately) cause another person to reasonably fear for their physically safety by following or “lying in wait” for them. This Stalking crime is a Class B Misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 6 months jail, a maximum $1000 fine, and probation. Recklessly stalking someone could be as harmless as following someone too closely with your car. In fact, Connecticut law does not even require you to utter a syllable or making any type of verbal threat to be guilty of Stalking—all the more reason to consult a top Stamford criminal lawyer attorney prior to defending yourself against a Connecticut Stalking charge.
Stalking in the Second Degree
Stalking in the Second Degree per C.G.S. 53a-181d is a Class A misdemeanor. You are guilty of a Connecticut Second Degree Stalking charge if you intentionally cause another person to fear for their physical safety by following or lying in wait for another person and causing them to reasonably fear for their physical safety. A conviction for this particular crime can result in a maximum one-year jail sentence, $2000 fine and probation. As you can see, the two operative elements of this crime are (1) intentionally trying to cause someone to be afraid, and (2) actually causing them fear by following them. The first element focuses on your intent. The second element correlates to the victim’s state of mind (something outside the control of the accused). Below we discuss how these pieces can be effectively challenged with a well-planned and aggressive defense to a Connecticut Stalking arrest.
Stalking in the First Degree
Finally, the most serious Stalking charge is First Degree Stalking under C.G.S. 53a-181c. This occurs when you commit Second Degree Stalking and (1) you have been previously convicted of First or Second Degree Stalking, or (2) your conduct violated a then-current court order, or (3) the victim is under 16 years old. Stalking in the First Degree per 53a-181c is a Class D felony, meaning it is punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a maximum $5000 fine, and probation. Clearly the penalties are dialed up in a First Degree Stalking arrest and cannot be taken lightly.
Does Following Your Cheating Spouse or Hiring a Private Investigator to Follow Your Cheating Spouse Expose You to a Connecticut Stalking Arrest?
We often get calls from the best Stamford and Greenwich divorce lawyers who ask us if their clients are permitted to follow or track their presumed cheating spouses. This is a very gray area of the law and police and prosecutors have little patience for spouses who push the limits of the Stalking laws in these scenarios. So if you are considering following your husband or wife, or hiring someone to “stake out” or follow your cheating husband or wife, then you should use a licensed and experienced private investigator who is assisted and advised by a top Stamford or Greenwich criminal attorney.
Too often we see angry and jilted spouses take the law into their own hands and install GPS tracking devices on their spouse’s property, or install spycams or nannycams in areas of their home where their spouse is entitled to an expectation of privacy. Be careful here—as you are now treading very closely to a Connecticut arrest for felony Voyeurism charges under CGS 53a-189a. Before jumping the gun, be sure to consult a skilled and experienced Stamford criminal lawyer to understand the mechanics and legalities of appropriate surveillance tactics. The last thing you need in these volatile divorce situations is an arrest—so err on the side of caution and call a private investigator recommended by your criminal or divorce lawyer.
Fighting Your Greenwich & Stamford Connecticut Stalking Arrest
As discussed above, the 53a-181 Stalking statutes are very subjective—that is, they depend largely on the individual perceptions and reactions of an alleged victim. So how can you prevent the victim from falsely claiming fear? You can’t. However, with the assistance of your Greenwich and Stamford criminal attorneys, you can try to persuade the prosecution and court to hold the victim to a “reasonable person” standard. The criminal lawyers at Mark Sherman Law have years of experiences in fighting Connecticut Stalking charges. As soon as we get involved in a case, we often file emergency motions to the Court to preserve all digital and electronic evidence which has recorded the alleged “stalking.” Too often we see bald, uncorroborated and conclusory allegations of Stalking that are based solely on the victim’s words—not any physical or electronic evidence. We take the prosecutors and victims to task and are proactive in trying to collect as much surveillance evidence as possible that can reveal to the judge, prosecutor and jury that there is a whole other side of the story to our client’s case. If the States of Connecticut and New York can charge you with running red lights based on traffic light video surveillance, then we can certainly hold the State of Connecticut to the same tale-of-the-tape standards in their prosecution of more serious crimes like 53a-181 Connecticut Stalking arrests.
Additionally, the Mark Sherman Law firm’s “two-attorney” guarantee ensures that your police reports will be scrutinized by at least two of our criminal attorneys for mistakes, errors, and omissions. We often see police conduct investigations for “confirmation” not “information” of our client’s conduct. This is just not fair. As a result, we examine police reports for constitutional defects and if necessary, we will file motions to the Superior Court to suppress evidence that has been wrongfully obtained by State of Connecticut prosecutors and state’s attorneys. The best defense is often an aggressive offense, so contact a Mark Sherman Law Stalking lawyer today. We will sit with you and design the best defense for your case that makes sense from both financial and practical perspectives.
Stalking Victim Representation – Do Stalking Victims Need Lawyers?
The Mark Sherman Law Firm has distinguished itself from its competitors in that we offer a comprehensive and highly skilled Victim Representation practice. We frequently represent victims of 53a-181 Stalking in the criminal courts. We stand out from our competitors by offering the assistance of our in-house victim advocate Christine Bartlett, who served as a victim advocate in the Stamford and Norwalk criminal courthouses for over 6 years, working on thousands of cases on behalf of crime victims. With her assistance, our Victim Representation attorneys have aggressively advocated for the rights of 53a-181 Stalking Victims at Superior Court arraignments, court appearances and pre-trial hearings. As a victim of a Connecticut Stalking crime, you are entitled to have your voice heard at all of these legal proceedings. Hiring a Victim criminal lawyer allows you the chance to have your position heard by both the judge and prosecutor each time the Defendant stalker is required to appear in Court. And if the stalker’s criminal lawyer is trying to get the case dismissed or the restraining order lifted, then we can fight and oppose these efforts aggressively on your behalf. So if you are a Victim of a Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan or Stamford 53a-181 Connecticut Stalking arrest, then you should call a Victim Representation attorney at Mark Sherman Law today.
When the Police Won’t Take Action in a Stalking Case…Should You Apply for a Civil Restraining Order?
Finally, we have seen situations when our clients have reported a Stalking situation to the Greenwich or Stamford police, but for some reason or another (sometimes a technical legality), the police are not able to make an arrest. In these situations, the Mark Sherman Law stalking lawyers have been hired to explore the possibility of applying for a civil restraining order in Bridgeport, Danbury or Stamford civil family court (as opposed to requesting a restraining order / protective order in criminal court). If the suspected stalker is a family member, boyfriend / girlfriend, or former intimate partner, then you are entitled to apply for a restraining order which, if violated, can result in a felony arrest for 53a-223b Criminal Violation of a Civil Restraining Order. Getting a restraining order against a Stalker is not automatic—an evidentiary hearing is required. Therefore it is worth taking the time to consult an experienced Connecticut stalking attorney to better understand the process and your chances of success. For more information on hiring the Mark Sherman Law Firm to represent you in a civil restraining order hearing, click here.
Contact an Experienced Connecticut Stalking Lawyer at Mark Sherman Law Today
So as you can gather from all of the above information, there are many moving parts to a Greenwich, Darien, Danbury, Norwalk or Stamford Connecticut 53a-181 Stalking arrest. Don’t let the criminal court system run you over at your arraignment and subsequent court proceedings. Whether you have been arrested for Stalking, or are a Stalking victim, consult an experienced Stamford Stalking lawyer at Mark Sherman Law today. Our “two-attorney” approach ensures that your case and police reports will be thoroughly reviewed by at least two of our criminal attorneys. We will sit with you to craft the most aggressive and cost-effective defense for your case. Our priority is results. We are not afraid to push back and challenge prosecutors and any alleged victims of your case to try and get you the best result possible.