Often, stalking charges are related to romances gone awry or misread signals. If you have been charged with stalking, you need to do everything you can to protect your rights and your future, no matter how well-intentioned you may have been.

A Charleston stalking lawyer could offer invaluable advice on how to handle your case. It may be vital to schedule a time to speak with an experienced attorney to understand the laws at play and help you determine the most effective course of action.

Stalking Laws in Charleston

The law defines stalking and harassment in the South Carolina Code §16-3-1700. There are several degrees of both stalking and harassment, depending on the circumstances of a particular offense. Each of these degrees carries specific penalties.

Harassment in the First Degree

First-degree harassment is a pattern of intentional behavior that unreasonably and substantially intrudes on the alleged victim’s life. The action has no legitimate purpose. Mental or emotional harm must be subjective and objective. It includes following the victim around, damaging property, continued surveillance, or physical touch after the victim has complained or filed an action, or watching the victim at the following locations:

  • Home
  • Workplace
  • School
  • Other places the victim frequents.

For a first offense, the court may find the actor guilty of a misdemeanor and put that person in jail for up to three years and fine them up to $1,000. If the actor violated a restraining order, the fine could increase up to $2,000. If the actor has a prior conviction, the second conviction is a felony, and the defendant may face up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Harassment in the Second Degree

Second-degree harassment requires the same reasonable and actual distress as noted for first-degree harassment. The court will look for a pattern of behavior, which causes fear in the victim. The type of prohibited conduct includes email, phone calls, texting, and other repetitive contacts.

For a first offense, the court may sentence the actor to up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $200. If a court had previously convicted the actor or issued a restraining order, any subsequent act could lead to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Stalking

Stalking is any pattern of behavior which the actor intends to make the victim afraid. Stalking may include reasonable fear of any of the following:

  • Death,
  • Assault,
  • Physical harm,
  • Rape or other sexual assault,
  • Kidnap, or
  • Property damage.

Stalking is the most severe crime described, and it is a felony. The court may sentence a convicted stalker to five years of incarceration years and a fine of up to $5,000. If the convicted defendant violated a restraining order, the punishment might increase ten years in prison and a $7,000 fine. Therefore, defendants should seek the services of a stalking lawyer in Charleston.

Reach Out to a Charleston Stalking Lawyer

If you have been accused of stalking or harassing someone, you may want to enlist the service of an attorney. A Charleston stalking lawyer could offer advice on how to respond to the police and prosecutor as well as help you assert your rights and make sure you mount an aggressive defense. Call today to learn how best to preserve your future.