Stalking may be considered by many to be a bogus charge, but for those who are convicted, it’s very serious. In Massachusetts, a stalker could be charged up to $1,000 in fines and imprisoned for up to two and a half years. If you’ve been charged with stalking, it’s time to explore defense strategies that ideally will help you avoid convicted or help reduce the severity of your sentence.
One way to do this is by breaking down the elements of the crime and disproving them, one by one.
Stalking by Definition
Under Massachusetts law, stalking is defined as:
- Willfully and maliciously engaging in conduct that seriously alarms or annoys a specific person and would cause reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress; and
- Making threats with the intent to the place person in fear of death or bodily injury.
Breaking Down the Elements
Looking at just the first definition of stalking, there are several separate elements of the crime. In order to be convicted, all of these things must be true:
- It must be proven that the defendant engaged in the conduct in question
- The defendant’s actions must be proven to be willful and malicious
- The actions must be proven to cause a person substantial emotional distress
If any one of these elements proves to be untrue, the defendant should not be convicted of the crime. For example, if the court proves that the defendant did engage in the conduct in question and the person was caused substantial emotional distress as a result, but it’s proven that the actions were not willful or malicious in nature, the defendant should not be convicted.
The second definition of stalking can be broken down in the same way:
- It must be proven that threats were made
- It must be proven that the defendant’s intent was to place the person in fear of bodily injury or death
In this instance, an example may be that threats were made, but the defendant was joking and lacked the intent to put the person in real fear. Or, it may be disproven that the threats were ever made at all.
Charged with Stalking? Get Help from An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Don’t let a stalking charge turn your life upside down. Get help from a criminal defense lawyer with experience. Call the Law Offices of Thomas Kokonowski, Esq. today for more information or to schedule a consultation at (413) 585-9200.