Stalking is an offense that can take many forms. While the crime is commonly associated with tracking someone’s every move, it can also be committed by making repeated phone calls and sending unwanted gifts after being told to stop. Not only this, but the crime can be committed in cyber-space by creating websites about the victim and posting about them on social media.
Retaining legal counsel is crucial. The Minnesota definition of stalking states your actions made a victim feel scared or intimidated, but the courts do not require prosecutors to prove they actually felt that way; opening the door for an easy conviction.
Criminal Defense Attorney in Apple Valley
Stalking and cyberstalking allegations stem from miscommunication. Maybe you are in an estranged relationship and the other person felt harassed, or your affection frightened the victim. Regardless of the situation, James Blumberg Law is here to help. James Blumberg will aggressively advocate on your behalf and stop at nothing to clear your name.
The sooner you contact James Blumberg Law, the better. Call (952) 431-7758 to schedule a time to speak with us. Some of the areas we serve include Dakota County, Anoka County, Carver County and Hennepin County.
- Acts Considered Stalking
- When is Stalking a Felony?
- When Does Stalking Become Cyberstalking?
- Additional Resources
Acts Considered Stalking
Stalking is not a one-time offense. Instead, the crime is considered a pattern of unwanted behaviors that cause a victim to feel threatened, frightened, oppressed or intimidated.
Minnesota law does not care about the relationship between you and the alleged victim, meaning you can be charged with the offense regardless if it was committed against a loved one or random stranger.
The Minnesota Statutes defines various repeated acts constituting stalking. These acts include:
- Manifesting a purpose or intent to injure a person, their rights or property by committing a crime
- Following, monitoring or pursuing another in person or through technology
- Returning to property without the consent of the owner
- Making repeated phone calls, sending text messages or inducing a person to makes phone calls, whether or not a conversation is had
- Causing another’s phone to ring repeatedly
- Repeatedly sending messages or packages through assistive devices for individuals with impaired vision or hearing loss
- Knowingly makes false allegations against a police officer regarding their performance with the intent to tamper or influence their performance
- Using another’s personal information, without their consent, to encourage, invite or solicit a third party to engage in a sexual act with the person
Committing any of these acts is a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota. A gross misdemeanor is punishable by the following:
- Up to 90 days in jail; or
- A fine of up to $1,000; or
- Both a fine and incarceration
When is Stalking a Felony?
A gross misdemeanor may seem like a slap on the wrist, especially since you may be able to avoid jail time and just pay a fine. However, there are certain circumstances where stalking will be reclassified to a felony. These circumstances include:
- Committing the crime based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age or national origin
- Committing the offense while falsely impersonating another
- Possessing a dangerous weapon at the time of the offense
- Stalking another with the intent to influence or tamper with judicial proceedings or to harm an individual connected with judicial proceedings
- Committing the crime against an individual younger than 18 and you are three years older
- Committing the offense within 10 years from conviction of a domestic violence offense
Stalking or cyberstalking under these circumstances is punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 or both a fine and incarceration.
Penalties will be elevated further in two situations:
- The offense is committed with sexual or aggressive intent against someone younger than 18 and you are three years older; and
- The offense is committed within 10 years of the first of two or more previous domestic violence or related convictions
Under these circumstances, you could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000 or both a fine and incarceration.
When Does Stalking Become Cyberstalking?
Technology has had a tremendous impact on society. While the invention has been mostly positive, there have been some negative side effects. Technology, mainly computers and cell phones, have evolved stalking into cyberstalking. Before, the stereotypical image of a stalker was an individual standing outside a victim’s window or following them down the street. Now, the act can be committed via technology.
Any stalking activity committed through any use of technology is considered cyberstalking. This can include sending repeated, harassing messages on Facebook, sending repeated text messages and monitoring an individual on social media. Minnesota does not have a specific law for cyberstalking. Instead, you would be charged with stalking under section 609.749 of the Minnesota Statutes.
Stalking | Minnesota Revised Statutes – Reading up on state laws is a wise decision when you have been accused of the crime. By following the link, you can read the section of the statutes governing stalking. You can find out the legal definition of the offense, how it’s charged and see where the case is tried if the offense is committed in two or more counties.
Stalking Information | Minnesota Attorney General – The Minnesota Attorney General’s office provides additional information on stalking. In addition to stalking laws in the North Star State, victims can gain access to helplines, learn how to document the incident and see if you are eligible for an order of protection.
Criminal Defense Lawyer in Apple Valley
Take the first step in your defense and contact James Blumberg Law. James Blumberg is a former prosecutor who knows how the other side thinks. He will use this experience to your advantage and build a strong defense for your case.
Call (952) 431-7758 to schedule a case evaluation. We are based in Apple Valley but regularly assist clients in areas such as Ham Lake, Chaska and Minneapolis.