New Canaan Stalking Lawyer
If you have been accused of stalking, it is a good idea to consult a New Canaan stalking lawyer to avoid a potential felony conviction. Advice from a top criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights and prevent you from taking action that could be used against you later.
Does a Stalking Offense Need to Be Habitual?
Unlike most other crimes that may involve only a single act, stalking requires repeated actions or a “course of conduct.” Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) §53a-181d defines a course of conduct as two or more actions that may involve someone acting on their own or indirectly through a third party. Activities involving electronic or social media can be part of a course of conduct for stalking purposes.
The actual conduct can vary. It may include, but is not limited to, actions such as:
- Inference with property
- Following someone
- Providing unwanted gifts
- Watching or lying in wait for someone
Depending on the situation, a stalking attorney in New Canaan could argue that conduct was incidental and did not constitute a course of conduct sufficient to constitute a violation.
Does Intent Play a Role in Stalking Charges and Convictions?
To find a person guilty of stalking, the prosecution must prove that the person accused acted with a certain state of mind. For first and second-degree stalking, a person must engage in a course of conduct knowingly or intentionally, and the course of conduct must be directed against a specific person.
In the case of third-degree stalking, someone does not need to act with deliberate intent, but they must be acting recklessly. A New Canaan stalking attorney may be able to show that conduct was coincidental or undertaken for a legitimate lawful purpose.
Are There Additional Requirements for a Stalking Charge?
The offense of stalking not only requires someone to intentionally or recklessly engage in a course of conduct, but also requires the actions to be of a type that would trigger certain responses in a “reasonable” person. In cases involving stalking in the first or second degrees, the course of conduct must be sufficient to cause a reasonable person to fear for their physical safety or fear damage to their employment or business or to cause emotional distress. A stalking attorney in New Canaan could argue that a reasonable person would not suffer distress or fear based on the actions at issue.
Situations that constitute third-degree stalking are more narrowly described. If someone repeatedly follows or lies in wait for another person and causes reasonable fear for physical safety or emotional distress, then that person may be convicted of third-degree stalking even if they did not deliberately intend to evoke fear or distress.
What Are Some Stalking Penalties?
Second-degree stalking under Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) § 53a-181d, is a Class A misdemeanor. Those convicted may be imprisoned for up to one year and fined in an amount up to $2,000. If the person convicted violated a protective order, had a prior conviction, or targeted someone under the age of 16, the offense becomes first-degree stalking, under C.G.S. § 53a-181c. This Class D felony is punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Stalking in the third degree, under C.G.S. § 53a-181e, is a Class B misdemeanor. The maximum sentence includes a fine of up to $1,000 and a sentence of up to six months in jail.
Contact a New Canaan Stalking Attorney
A New Canaan stalking lawyer can fight to protect your rights, use all available strategies to defend against the charges, and provide counseling and representation to avoid statements against your interests. Call Mark Sherman Law now to learn more about the advantages an experienced defense lawyer could provide in your case.