The Texas Attorney General states in literature that a stalker tries to control his or her victim through behavior or threats intended to intimidate and terrify. A stalker could be an unknown person, an acquaintance or a former intimate partner, and a stalker’s state of mind may range from obsessive love to obsessive hatred for a period of days, weeks, or even years.
The literature notes that stalking is proven through the intent and the conduct of a stalker. While harassment and terroristic threats are both misdemeanor offenses, stalking is a felony that can carry serious penalties.
If you were arrested for an alleged stalking offense in Denton, Lewisville, Flower Mound, or another community in Denton County, Texas, you are going to need to find yourself experienced legal counsel right away. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy has defended scores of people charged with stalking crimes in North Texas.
Our firm will be able to conduct our own investigation into your criminal charges to determine the strongest possible defense in court. You can have us discuss your entire case with you as soon as you call (940) 222-8004 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
It is important to understand that Texas Penal Code § 42.07(a) establishes that a person commits the crime of harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another, they:
● initiate communication and in the course of the communication make a comment, request, suggestion, or proposal that is obscene;
● threaten, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the threat, to inflict bodily injury on the person or to commit a felony against the person, a member of the person's family or household, or the person's property;
● convey, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the report, a false report, which is known by the conveyor to be false, that another person has suffered death or serious bodily injury;
● cause the telephone of another to ring repeatedly or make repeated telephone communications anonymously or in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another;
● make a telephone call and intentionally fail to hang up or disengage the connection;
● knowingly permit a telephone under the person's control to be used by another to commit a harassment offense; or
● send repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.
Keep in mind that Texas Penal Code § 49.07(b)(1) defines electronic communication as “a transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photo-optical system” that includes a communication initiated through the use of electronic mail, instant message, network call, a cellular or other type of telephone, a computer, a camera, text message, a social media platform or application, an Internet website, any other Internet-based communication tool, or facsimile machine, and a communication made to a pager. The term obscene is defined under Texas Penal Code § 49.07(b)(3) as meaning “containing a patently offensive description of or a solicitation to commit an ultimate sex act, including sexual intercourse, masturbation, cunnilingus, fellatio, or anilingus, or a description of an excretory function.”
Harassment is a Class B misdemeanor. The crime becomes a Class A misdemeanor if the alleged offender was previously been convicted of harassment or the offense involved sending repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another, and was committed against a child under 18 years of age and either with the intent that the child commit suicide or engage in conduct causing serious bodily injury to the child, or the alleged offender has previously violated a temporary restraining order or injunction issued under Chapter 129A of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Under Texas Penal Code § 22.07, a person commits a terroristic threats offense if they threaten to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:
● cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies;
● place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
● prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place;
● cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service;
● place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
● influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.
Terroristic threats is a Class B misdemeanor. The offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor if the offense is committed against a member of the person's family or household or otherwise constitutes family violence, or is committed against a public servant.
Texas Penal Code § 49.072 establishes that a person commits the crime of stalking if they, on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engage in conduct that:
● constitutes an offense under Texas Penal Code § 42.07, or that the alleged offender knows or reasonably should know the other person will regard as threatening bodily injury or death for the other person, bodily injury or death for a member of the other person's family or household or for an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship, or that an offense will be committed against the other person's property;
● causes the other person, a member of the other person's family or household, or an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship to be placed in fear of bodily injury or death or in fear that an offense will be committed against the other person's property, or to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended; and
● would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or death for himself or herself, fear bodily injury or death for a member of the person's family or household or for an individual with whom the person has a dating relationship, fear that an offense will be committed against the person's property, or feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended.
Stalking is a third-degree felony. The crime is a second-degree felony if the alleged offender has previously been convicted of stalking in Texas or of a similar crime under the laws of another state, the laws of a federally recognized Indian tribe, the laws of a territory of the United States, or federal law.
Harassment, terroristic threats, and stalking have different consequences for convictions. Sentences for these crimes could include the following:
● Class B Misdemeanor — Up to 180 days in jail and/or fine of up to $2,000
● Class A Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or fine of up to $4,000
● Third-Degree Felony — Up to 10 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000
● Second-Degree Felony — Up to 20 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000
It is important for alleged offenders to know that the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code also allows alleged victims to file actions to recover monetary damages against alleged stalkers.
Stalking | Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — The Supplemental Victimization Survey (SVS) reports that individuals are classified as stalking victims if they experienced at least one of these behaviors on at least two separate occasions and feared for their safety or that of a family member as a result of the course of conduct, or experienced additional threatening behaviors that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. The SVS measured stalking behaviors as making unwanted phone calls, sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or e-mails, following or spying on the victim, showing up at places without a legitimate reason, waiting at places for the victim, leaving unwanted items, presents, or flowers, and posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth. According to the BJS, an estimated 14 in every 1,000 persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking during a 12-month period and approximately half (46 percent) of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week with 11 percent of victims saying they had been stalked for five years or more.
The Stalking Resource Center | Texas — A National Center for Victims of Crime partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women resulted in the creation of the Stalking Resource Center (SRC). The mission of the center is “to enhance the ability of professionals, organizations, and systems to effectively respond to stalking.” You can also find information about local resources, protection orders, and civil stalking laws on this website.
Were you recently arrested for an alleged stalking offense in Denton County? Do not wait to get yourself a strong criminal defense attorney for help fighting the criminal charges.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy will be prepared to fight on your behalf and help get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (940) 222-8004 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.