The state’s definition of “stalking” is broad, which leads to this offense being heavily overcharged in Georgia. Because of this, defenses against stalking charges must closely examine the supposedly illegal activity and compare the prosecutor’s evidence to the language of the law.
A Newnan stalking lawyer is prepared to provide assistance in formulating these defenses. A knowledgeable defense attorney can work to explain the state’s stalking laws, evaluate the strength of the prosecutor’s evidence, and present defenses in court that help to weaken a prosecutor’s case and protect your rights.
In general, stalking describes any activity that a person takes to follow another with the purpose of intimidating their target. More specifically, the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 16-5-90 defines stalking as the following, surveilling, or contacting of another without their consent with the purpose of intimidation or harassment. This contact may be in person, over the phone, or through the internet.
Furthermore, the same statute defines harassment as an action that comes with the intent of causing emotional distress.
Convictions for simple stalking cases are misdemeanors. Under the law, a misdemeanor conviction can result in a jail sentence of no more than one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. However, this may not be the full extent of the punishment. Courts may also require you to submit to a psychological evaluation to determine if any mental health treatment is necessary. In addition, the alleged victims of this behavior may ask the court to issue a restraining order upon the opening of a case, and the court may make this order permanent upon conviction. These are the punishments for a first stalking conviction. Subsequent convictions are felonies that carry a one-year minimum prison sentence with a maximum term of ten years.
What otherwise may be regular stalking can become aggravated stalking when done in violation of some type of court order. This ups the stakes from a misdemeanor to a felony as defined in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 16-5-91.
Aggravated stalking convictions are also felonies. Here, minimum terms of one year also apply with a maximum range of ten years. A Newnan stalking attorney can help you better understand the charges you are facing and their associated penalties. From there, a lawyer can work with you to build a strong defense against your charges that aims to reduce or even eliminate your potential sentence and fines.
To prove a stalking charge at trial, a prosecutor must demonstrate that you followed or otherwise contacted an alleged victim without their consent. In addition, this prosecutor must also show that you made this contact with the intention of harassing or intimidating the complainant.
The goal of a Newnan stalking attorney is to create reasonable doubt about either of these claims. This could include introducing evidence that contact was consensual. It could also involve showing that although you did follow an individual without their consent, you did not intend to intimidate or otherwise bother the alleged victim. Establishing either fact could help to defeat a prosecutor’s case in court.
In Newnan and the rest of the state, accusations involving stalking are serious matters. Even a mere arrest for these charges could bring a restraining order that severely limits your movements and activities. Convictions come with even harsher penalties that can impose fines, involve psychological evaluations, or require jail sentences.
A knowledgeable attorney can work to help you to avoid these penalties by building a strong defense on your behalf. Schedule a free consultation with a Newnan stalking lawyer today to learn more.
J. Ryan Brown Law, LLC
J. Ryan Brown Law, LLC