Ridgefield Stalking Lawyer
In more situations than you may think, there is little to no difference between simply making someone uncomfortable and “stalking” them to a criminally actionable degree, and the same goes for the difference between misdemeanor stalking and felony stalking as defined in the Connecticut Penal Code. No matter what type of stalking charge you are facing, though, having help from a knowledgeable Ridgefield Stalking lawyer is certainly key to efficiently constructing a strong harassment defense strategy and minimizing the criminal and personal repercussions that an accusation of this nature may have for you.
Stalking as a Misdemeanor Offense
There are four distinct “stalking” offenses defined in the Connecticut Penal Code, two of which are categorized as misdemeanors and two of which are considered felonies. While guidance from a seasoned Ridgefield Stalking attorney can be vital to contesting any type of stalking charge, knowing in advance how the Penal Code specifically addresses each version of this offense can be helpful.
The least severe variant of this offense is Stalking in the Third Degree, a Class B Misdemeanor defined under Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) § 53a-181e which criminalizes someone who recklessly causes someone else to reasonably fear for their physical safety and/or suffer “emotional distress” by repeatedly and intentionally following them or lying in wait for them. In this context, “emotional distress” refers to significant psychological and/or mental suffering without any importance given to whether the impacted person needs professional medical treatment or counseling. Stalking in the Third Degree is punishable by up to six months of jail and/or $1,000 in maximum fines.
Stalking in the Second Degree
Under C.G.S. § 53a-181d, someone commits Stalking in the Second Degree if they do any of the following:
- Knowingly engage in a “course of conduct”—meaning two or more actions such as lying in wait, surveilling, harassing, or interfering with personal property conducted through any means either directly, indirectly, or through a third party—that would cause a reasonable personal to fear imminent harm to themselves or a third person, serious or fatal injury to a pet, and/or suffer emotional distress;
- With the intent to harass, terrorize or alarm, and for no legitimate purpose, they engage in a course of conduct directed at or concerning a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear that such person’s employment, business or career is threatened, where such conduct consists of the actor telephoning to, appearing at or initiating communication or contact to such other person’s place of employment or business, including electronically, through video-teleconferencing or by digital media, provided the actor was previously and clearly informed to cease such conduct, and such conduct does not consist of constitutionally protected activity; and/or
- Intentionally use electronic communication to disclose someone’s personally identifiable information for no legitimate purpose and without that person’s consent knowing that this would cause a reasonable person to fear for their own physical safety or that of a third person and/or suffer emotional distress.
As a trusted Ridgefield attorney can attest, this form of Stalking is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries maximum sanctions upon conviction of up to one year in jail and $2,000 in fines.
When Does Stalking Become a Felony Offense?
Someone who commits Stalking in the Second Degree may have their charge elevated to Stalking in the First Degree under C.G.S. § 53a-181c if any of the following aggravating conditions apply:
- They have one or more prior convictions for second-degree Stalking;
- Their actions constitute a violation of a valid court order;
- They are 22 years of age or older, and the targeted person is under 16 years of age; and/or
- Their actions were motivated partially or entirely by the targeted person’s actual or perceived race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.
Additionally, C.G.S. § 53a-181f specifically defines “electronic stalking” as someone—with intent to harass, intimidate, injure, or kill—using any computer, electronic communication, and/or electronic monitoring system to surveil someone else or other engage in a course of conduct creating reasonable fear of serious bodily injury, death, or substantial emotional distress to the targeted person, their immediate family member, or their intimate partner. Both these offenses are Class D felonies carrying maximum sanctions upon conviction of five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Trusting in a Ridgefield stalking attorney as soon as possible after facing charges is your best way of ensuring a strong defense.
Work With a Trusted Ridgefield Stalking Attorney
It is worth emphasizing that this is just a broad summary of how the Connecticut Penal Code treats Stalking as a criminal offense. Individual courts may treat this sort of allegation in unique ways depending on their own interpretations of the law as well as a particular defendant’s criminal history and the facts available in their case.
No matter what, though, guidance from a seasoned Ridgefield Stalking lawyer will almost always be crucial to enforcing your rights and securing the best case resolution possible. Call the Law Offices of Mark Sherman today to schedule your confidential consultation, and click here to view over 300 certified reviews from past clients.