Stalking is a severe offense that could put your freedom and reputation in jeopardy. Each case is unique and requires a careful review of the facts. Any charge of this nature can be difficult and risky to handle on your own, which is why you should call a seasoned Greenville stalking lawyer for help with your case. Reaching out to Christopher L. Jones, a capable defense attorney, is the best way to protect your rights and your future.
Criminal Stalking and Harassment Statutes
Stalking is a serious criminal offense that could subject you to time in jail. South Carolina Code of Law § 16-3-1700, defines stalking as a pattern of words or behavior that serves no legitimate purpose, and is intended to cause another person to fear any of the following: death, assault, injury, sexual assault, kidnapping or damage to their property. For purposes of stalking, a pattern of behavior is two or more instances occurring over a period of time, however short. Stalking also arises if someone makes another believe any of the previously mentioned fears would happen to their family. However, the fear one feels must be reasonable for it to rise to the level of stalking.
A knowledgeable Greenville attorney could further explain how these statutes apply in your case and help devise a defense against a stalking charge.
The State’s Definition of Harassment
It is important to understand that there are various degrees of stalking and harassment. In South Carolina, there are two degrees of harassment. Harassment in the second degree is a pattern of intentional unreasonable intrusion into the private life of a person, and it causes the person to suffer mental or emotional distress. Examples of second degree harassment are verbal, written, or electronic communications.
Harassment in the first degree is similar to second degree, except it requires the physical presence of the individual following the targeted person to various locations, or surveillance of the targeted person. The charge of harassment is less severe, but it is still serious offense that can bring harsh consequences.
Harassment in the first degree is a misdemeanor that brings fine up to $1,000.00, goes on your permanent record, and subjects you of up to three years in jail. If there is a restraining order in effect or a previous conviction for harassment, the fine goes up to 2,000.00. If an individual has a prior conviction for harassment or stalking within the preceding ten years, they are guilty of a felony, and must be fined up to five thousand dollars, imprisoned for 5 years, or both. Harassment in the second degree carries a penalty of 30 days in jail and or a fine up to two hundred dollars.
Penalties for a Stalking Conviction
If you are found guilty of stalking, you face fines of up to $5,000 and five years in prison. A guilty verdict also means a felony conviction on your permanent record, which might impact your constitutional rights.
Similar to harassment charges, if you have a restraining order in place, you face fines of up to $7,000 and ten years in prison. Further, if a person has a stalking or harassment conviction in the last ten years, and they are found guilty of stalking they can be imprisoned for fifteen years, or fined $10,000.00, or both. Christopher L. Jones, a dedicated Greenville lawyer, could advocate on your behalf in your stalking case. As a former prosecutor and municipal judge, he understands the law inside and out and could fight for your freedom.
Consult a Diligent Greenville Stalking Attorney
If you face a conviction for stalking or harassment, you must take the charges seriously. It is never wise to fight criminal charges without the help of a knowledgeable legal professional. If you are found guilty, you face fines, jail time, and a felony on your permanent record.
A stalking conviction could make your life more challenging for years to come. If you need help after an arrest, schedule a meeting with a Greenville stalking lawyer today to discuss your case.