What is stalking, and can I face charges for it?

The Police’s classic song “Every Breath You Take” almost makes a stalker/victim relationship seem romantic. However, for those on the receiving end of stalking, this behavior is anything but ideal. Being stalked can be frightening and demoralizing. Missouri residents should also understand that if someone has reasonable proof they are a victim of stalking, the behavior can result in criminal charges for the alleged stalker. If you face accusations of stalking an ex, a friend or a co-worker, it is important for you to understand the definition of the behavior, as well as the penalties you could face if a judge finds you guilty.

According to FindLaw, the following penalties are consequences for stalking in Missouri:

  • Class A misdemeanor charges for a first offense, which may include up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a $2,500 fine
  • A charge of aggravated stalking for being under a restraining order at the time of the alleged behavior, stalking a minor, displaying a deadly weapon, having a previous stalking conviction or making a credible threat
  • A felony charge for a subsequent conviction within seven years

What is stalking, you may wonder. The criminal courts consider stalking as a range of behaviors that include repeated harassment, following someone or showing up at their home or workplace uninvited. A stalker may have developed an unhealthy obsession with someone or an inability to let go of a past relationship. Stalking behavior also includes frequently contacting the target with phone calls, text messages, emails or messages on social media. The target of stalking can feel threatened, annoyed and afraid for his or her safety. Often, stalking occurs in relationships in which domestic violence was a factor.

Law enforcement takes accusations of stalking seriously and may not hesitate to investigate or press charges. The law entitles you to a competent defense if someone accuses you of stalking.