Georgia legislators take the crime of stalking very seriously so they have taken action with the enactment of a targeted law. In order to be sure that a person who is exhibiting escalating behavior is stopped before a crime involving bodily harm occurs, the State of Georgia has a stalking statute. Although this is an important protection for many people, it also means that individuals may face serious criminal charges when they did not do anything wrong based on perceived actions.
The act of stalking involves a situation where a person makes contact, whether that is in person, through digital means, over the telephone, or through written communication, with the intent to intimidate or harass another person. There does not have to be any threat of harm for there to be a stalking charge and conviction. The actions that trigger a charge of stalking may include:
- Placing a person under surveillance for no legitimate reason;
- Following a person repeatedly;
- Contacting someone repeatedly without consent and with the intent to intimidate or harass; or
- Engaging in any behavior that creates a reasonable belief that a person or a person’s family is in jeopardy of being harmed.
The element of intimidation or harassment is demonstrated where a person experiences emotional distress as a result of the accused’s actions, believing that his or her safety is in jeopardy. In order to be charged, there needs to be no legitimate reason for the behavior that forms the basis of the stalking allegation. This means that a situation where a person is trying to track someone down to recover money that is owed may not result in stalking charges while a woman who is obsessed with an actor, following him everywhere and trying to get into his home, may face stalking charges.
Frequently, stalking charges will be brought if a person has obtained a restraining order against someone, who then continues to try to make contact with the alleged victim. In addition, taking actions that result in other people harassing or intimidating the victim, such as posting a false Internet ad encouraging unwanted contact, may lead to a stalking charge.
A person who has been charged with a first offense stalking charge may have to pay a fine of up to $1,000.00 and spend up to one year in jail. Additional offenses may lead to incarceration for a term of one year to 10 years in prison. Many times, a person who is charged with stalking may be subjected to a psychological evaluation and could face time in a psychological treatment facility. In addition, the alleged victim may be able to obtain a permanent restraining order in order to protect himself and his family.
Aggravated stalking happens when a person has been ordered to stay away from a person, but violates that order, term of probation, or permanent injunction, continuing to harass or intimidate the alleged victim. In addition to the potential for imprisonment and large fines, a person convicted of aggravated stalking may have his or her photograph and information about the stalking conviction published in the local newspaper.
The Abt Law Firm, LLC. Aggressively Advocates on Behalf of its Clients
Stalking charges are taken very seriously in Georgia, which leads to situations where overzealous prosecutors bring charges against people who were not engaging in behavior that justified the accusations. A strong and effective defense is crucial to preventing long-term harm from these charges and the public shaming that may result from a conviction. The Atlanta Criminal Defense Firm of the Abt Law Firm, LLC. has the experience and resources to fight stalking charges. If you do not want a criminal record, call us immediately at 1 (800) NO JAIL 9 or 1 (800) 665-2459 and we can help. We offer free consultations at our office, over the telephone, and are ready to come to you in jail.