Westport Stalking Lawyer
A Westport stalking lawyer can help protect your rights and build a solid defensive strategy to enable you to reach a positive outcome. Assistance from a top defense lawyer can also help you avoid saying or doing something that could increase the severity of the situation.
What is Stalking?
Individuals in Westport may be charged with four types of stalking crimes. The definition of each is different, but they share one critical feature in common. To be convicted of any stalking offense, you must act more than once.
Depending on the offense, actions must be either willful and repeated or be part of a “course of conduct” to constitute a violation. In some cases, a stalking lawyer in Westport can work to fight the charges by showing that the conduct complained of was not repeated or did not constitute a “course of conduct.”
Is Stalking a Misdemeanor of Felony?
Stalking in the third degree and electronic stalking are the least serious stalking crimes charged in Westport. Both are Class B misdemeanors punishable by no more than six months in jail and a fine of up to $1000. A Westport stalking attorney can work to seek alternative penalties that do not create a criminal record.
You can be convicted of third-degree stalking under Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) §53a-181e if you willfully and repeatedly follow a person or lie in wait for a person and those actions cause that person to suffer emotional distress or fear for their physical safety. Electronic stalking is defined similarly, but instead of following someone, this offense involves using a GPS-type system to track the location of another person.
The fear must be “reasonable” for the actions to constitute stalking. However, the individual following or lying in wait does not need to act with the intention of causing fear. Instead, they only need to act in reckless disregard of the fact their acts could inspire fear in the person being followed.
Are There More Serious Stalking Offenses?
First- and second-degree stalking are based on a similar definition. However, stalking in the first degree is a Class D felony with penalties that include up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. As a Class A misdemeanor, second-degree stalking carries a maximum sentence of one year of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000.
What Warrants a Charge of Second-Degree Stalking?
To commit second-degree stalking, someone must intentionally engage in a course of conduct aimed at a specific person. The course of conduct must include actions that could cause a reasonable person to fear harm to their own or another’s physical safety or harm to their career or business. If the conduct would cause emotional distress to a reasonable person, then it could also be considered second-degree stalking.
A course of conduct for stalking might include actions such as following, observing, threatening, harassing, or sending unwanted gifts. When the actions are directed at someone under the age of 16 or the person taking action is violating a court order or has a prior conviction, then the offense escalates to stalking in the first degree.
Consult a Westport Stalking Attorney
Advice and representation by an experienced Westport stalking lawyer can prevent a lot of problems and help you fight the charges in the most effective manner. For an initial consultation to learn about the assistance a dedicated legal advocate could provide in your situation, contact Mark Sherman Law today.