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What actions constitute stalking?

On Behalf of | Nov 17, 2020 | Criminal Defense, Firm News |

If a peer recently accused you of stalking, you face very serious legal charges and the associated consequences. Stalking is one of the most common charges college-aged individuals face, and the state of Georgia takes them very seriously. For this reason, you should never take stalking accusations lightly and, if feasible, retain an attorney who can help you better understand your rights.

The charges you face depend on the specifics of your case. However, FindLaw outlines Georgia’s stalking laws and what actions the state considers illegal.

The definition of stalking

Per the legal definition, stalking is not a single event but rather, a pattern of behavior. For the law to consider behavior stalking, it must incite apprehension or fear in another individual.

Stalking can take many forms, but for simplicity’s sake, Georgia law defines it as watching, following or contacting another person without his or her consent, and with the purpose of intimidating or harassing him or her. These actions do not necessarily have to occur in person; they can take place via any mode of communication, including telephone, computer, mail, broadcast or any other electronic device.

The state classifies stalking as a misdemeanor, though an offender can face felony charges if certain factors exist. For instance, the court may charge you with aggravated stalking if you violate a court order, injunction, probation or bond.

Penalties for stalking

A first-time conviction for stalking may result in a misdemeanor, so long as no aggravating factors exist. However, if aggravating factors exist, the state may elevate the charges to a felony. A conviction for a first-time offense can result in a jail sentence of between one and 10 years and a fine up to $10,000.

The courts treat second and subsequent offenses more seriously. A subsequent stalking offense is a felony that carries a minimum of one year in jail and a maximum sentence of 10 years.