Westport Stalking Lawyer
Westport Connecticut police and prosecutors consider take stalking accusations seriously–especially when the situation involves a minor, a violation of a civil restraining order, or violation of a criminal protective order. Even the least serious version of criminal stalking can result in a substantial term of imprisonment and the imposition of heavy fines.
Connecticut lawmakers are also keeping up with technology—especially with respect to Connecticut electronic stalking charges. They have revised the statutes governing criminal stalking in recent years to account for advances in electronic surveillance technology and communications devices.
If you are facing stalking charges in Westport Connecticut, it is important to speak with an experienced harassment attorney as soon as possible. A Westport stalking lawyer can help you understand your options for fighting these charges and avoiding mistakes that could compound the offense.
What is the Legal Definition of Stalking?
A basic definition of criminal stalking is set forth in the Connecticut penal code. While most crimes consist of a single act, stalking requires a series of actions referred to as a course of conduct.
When the conduct is made with deliberate intent to make another person fear for their physical safety, the safety of another, or their job or profession, and the actions cause such reasonable fear. It is for these reasons that a police officer can arrest you for stalking in the second degree.
Reckless stalking, which is stalking conduct not committed with deliberate intent to cause fear, but still causes fear of physical harm, is grounds for an arrest for stalking in a third degree, a less serious offense. It may be critical for someone to speak with a Westport stalking lawyer about creating a defense before trial.
What are Stalking in the Third Degree and Electronic Stalking in Westport?
Under Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) §53a-181e, third-degree stalking occurs when someone “recklessly cause[s] another person to reasonably fear for his physical safety by willfully and repeatedly following or lying in wait for such other person.” When a person takes these actions using a GPS or similar electronic system to track another person, the offense may be prosecuted as electronic stalking, which is penalized similarly to third degree stalking.
What is Stalking in the Second Degree in Westport?
The definition of stalking in the second degree is more complex. C.G.S. §53a-181d describes several situations that will be treated as this Class A misdemeanor.
Someone commits second-degree stalking if they knowingly commit two or more acts such as:
- Lying in wait
- Sending unwanted gifts
When these acts are aimed at a specific individual and would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or someone else’s safety, they may be treated as second-degree stalking. Conduct may also be treated as a violation of this statute if it could cause the target individual to fear that their career is threatened.
What is Stalking in the First Degree in Westport?
Felony first-degree stalking occurs when someone with a prior stalking conviction takes actions that constitute stalking in the second degree. This offense can also occur if a second-degree stalking action violates a court order or if the targeted person is under the age of 16.
What are the Penalties for Stalking in CT?
First degree stalking is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Second and third degree stalking are misdemeanor offenses. Stalking in the second degree, is a Class A misdemeanor, and punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Stalking in the third degree, as well as electronic stalking, are both Class B misdemeanors and punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
Call an Experienced Westport Stalking Attorney
Stalking is a crime that can be charged in wide range of circumstances because the offense is defined so broadly under Connecticut criminal law.
A Westport stalking lawyer with experience in stalking cases understands how the courts apply these statutes in different types of circumstances. They are ideally suited to determine the best strategies for your defense, based on your individual situation.
Obtaining advice from a knowledgeable stalking attorney can prevent costly mistakes and help put you on the road to possibly beneficial outcome.