Stalking is a Felony in Arizona
If you have been charged with stalking in Phoenix, it may not sound to you as if it is a particularly serious offense. But if you think this is a minor charge, you are wrong. All stalking charges are felonies, and the consequences of a conviction are therefore very serious indeed. At the Law Offices of David A. Black, we understand the law, and we can provide you with the chance of a dismissal, a reduction in the charges, or a not guilty verdict.
The first step in the process is to understand the elements of a stalking offense.
What is Criminal Stalking?
The crime of stalking is defined in A.R.S. 13-2923. That statute provides that you commit the offense of stalking if you intentionally or knowingly engage in a course of conduct:
- That would lead to someone being in fear of his or her safety (or the safety of his or her immediate family); and such fear is actually present, or
- That would lead to someone person being in fear of his or her death (or that of his or her immediate family), and the alleged victim in fact fears his or her own death or that of his or her immediate family.
The differences between the two levels of stalking is significant, because the level of the charge changes from a class 5 felony to a class 3 felony. This could mean the difference, in some cases, between a relatively short jail term or probation, on the one hand, and years in prison, on the other. In either event, the fear must be such that would be experienced by a reasonable person.
In addition, if an order of protection has been entered, the facts giving rise to the stalking claim could also provide the basis for a separate charge against you.
Here are some of the issues we examine when we’re called upon to defend someone charged with stalking.
How Do You Defend a Stalking Charge?
In some cases, a stalking allegation could simply amount to one person’s word against another. In these cases, the prosecution may have a difficult time proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But in many cases, there are telephone records, emails, letters, and/or witnesses that may be available to provide evidence that the crime took place.
Remember that stalking requires a “course of conduct.” And while the statute provides a definition of that phrase, it does not provide an unassailable formula that would allow a determination that stalking did or did not take place. The specific conduct that may constitute stalking includes:
- Maintaining visual or physical proximity to a person, or directing threats, on two or more occasions (over any period of time); or
- Using an electronic device or system to “surveil” a person (or a person’s wireless or internet activity) for a period of twelve or more hours on at least two occasions, without being authorized to do so.
These definitions of the applicable conduct are rather broad, and they would include, by their terms, certain activities that no one would seriously contend constitutes stalking. In each case, however, the law requires that the activity, in addition to causing actual fear, is one that would cause a reasonable person to be in fear. And what a reasonable person would fear in a given situation is open to interpretation, an issue that is important in any stalking case. Finally, in dealing with a stalking charge, it is essential to have an experienced criminal lawyer in your corner.
Phoenix Stalking Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with stalking, it is important that you do not attempt to contact the accuser. Being charged with a crime you didn’t commit is very frustrating, but seeking further contact with the victim will not help your case in court. In fact, it may affect your chances at getting the charges dropped, and in some cases could lead to additional charges.
The courts are unsympathetic toward those who are charged with stalking, and consider it to be a violent crime. You want a lawyer at your side you can trust to keep you out of jail and keep your reputation intact.
If you have been accused of stalking, contact the Law Offices of David A. Black today at (480)-280-8028 to schedule a free consultation.