he criminal offense of stalking often results from an emotionally charged situation, but the State of Michigan takes stalking offenses very seriously. When you are charged with stalking you may be understandably worried about your future and what might happen. Call us for a legal consultation on your defense options. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can guide you, and help you protect yourself, and diffuse this situation.
What is considered stalking under Michigan law?
The term stalking can be confusing in and of itself. A few legal definitions can help you understand the charges against you as defined by Michigan’s stalking laws (MCL 750.411h)
Stalking: a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.
Harassment: conduct directed toward a victim that includes, but is not limited to, repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a reasonable individual to suffer emotional distress and that actually causes the victim to suffer emotional distress.
What contact is considered “unconsented”?
Consent is a key element of a stalking charge. Unconsented contact is any contact that the other party does not want and can include:
- Sending email or posted mail
- Being in visual contact with
- Entering that persons property or workplace
Michigan Criminal Stalking Penalties
If you are found guilty of the above description of stalking you will be facing misdemeanor penalties, which could be up to one year in prison and fines of up to $1,000.
If you are found guilty of the above described offense and the victim involved was under the age of 18, you are facing felony status and a sentence of up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
The court may also require a restraining order, counseling, anger management classes, or other remedies if you are convicted.
You can and should challenge the prosecution and protect your own rights, especially if you made a mistake in a difficult situation, and you want to correct the situation. But you need a defense attorney to help get the situation under control, and reduce the risk of serious criminal action.
Aggravated Stalking Laws
Aggravated stalking is a serious felony. (MCL 750.411i) What makes it different than misdemeanor stalking is that one of the following situations must apply:
1. One of the committed actions making up the offense was in violation of an existing restraining order.
2. One of the committed actions making up the offense was a violation of probation, parole, or pre-trial release.
3. The offense involves at least one believable threat against the victim, their family, or another individual living with the victim.
4. You have previously been convicted of misdemeanor stalking, i.e it is a second offense stalking charge.
Felony Aggravated Stalking Penalties
If convicted of felony aggravated stalking you are facing a potential sentence of up to 5 years in prison and fines of $15,000.
If the victim is under the age of 18 and you are at least 5 years older at the time of the offense, that sentence is increased to up to 10 years in prison and fines of $15,000.
Offenders convicted of aggravated stalking may be required to serve a minimum 5 year probation term.
Probationary terms for this type of conviction can include: psychological evaluations and therapies, as well as refraining from contact with the victim.
These stalking laws were just passed in 1993 in an effort to crack down on harassment and stalking behaviors and to protect the victims. Michigan courts are serious about enforcing these laws.
Please contact us for a case evaluation on a criminal stalking charge in Michigan. We can help.