Stalking is considered a very serious charge in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, and North Charleston. The penalties for stalking can be quite severe, usually requiring a comprehensive criminal defense. Thankfully, a skilled domestic violence attorney understands the complexities of these cases and how to best approach them.
To work with a legal representative and get the help you need, contact an experienced Charleston stalking lawyer. Our office could explain the penalties you face, assess the evidence against you, protect your integrity, and fight for a positive case outcome.
Defining Stalking Under State Law
The definition of “stalking” is found under the “Harassment and Stalking” section of the South Carolina Code § 16-3-1700. Stalking is defined as words or a pattern of conduct which serves no legitimate purpose and is meant to create fear towards a targeted person. For instance, the behavior might make someone afraid of:
This fear can be inspired in many ways. For instance, an intimidating pattern of words may be verbal, electronic, or written. When someone is facing a stalking charge, a skilled Charleston lawyer could fight to prove that a defendant’s actions did not or should not have inspired fear in another person.
Important Stalking Terms to Understand
There are a few key terms that anyone accused of stalking needs to understand. These definitions might appear multiple times during the case process.
A “pattern” means two or more acts that occur over a period of time, however short, but still demonstrate continuity.
In stalking cases, “family” means a child, spouse, sibling, parent, or another person who regularly resides in the targeted person’s household.
This term refers to writing, images, texting, email, or anything transmitted in an electronic manner to the targeted person.
What Are the Penalties for Stalking?
The penalties associated with a stalking conviction are serious and deserve understanding. Additionally, the circumstances of the case and the nature of the stalking can influence the consequences seen in a conviction.
For a person’s first stalking offense, they may face up to five years in prison and a potential fine of $5,000.
Stalking that Violates a Protection Order
If the stalking offense violates a valid and existing protection order, the penalties are increased. The defendant now faces up to seven years in prison and $7,000 in fines.
Prior Stalking or Harassment Convictions
If a convicted person has a prior harassment or stalking conviction within the last ten years of their criminal history, the penalties increase again. They now face up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Our seasoned lawyers understand the significance of these penalties and could fight for the most positive outcome in any stalking case, regardless of the situation.
Build a Defense with a Charleston Stalking Attorney
Stalking charges can result in over a decade in prison at their most serious, but even at their “least serious,” they are a felony charge that could mean years in jail. Stalking is often ill-defined when compared to real-world situations, which leaves the possibility for confusion. However, this also means that there are many ways to defend against a stalking charge.
A capable Charleston stalking lawyer knows what it takes to build your defense and fight for your rights. They could exhaust all the options and work hard to protect your future. Contact our office today.