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Is Stalking Considered a Crime?

Being followed, harassed, or made to fear for your safety is an awful feeling, and such behavior can be the precursor to violence. That’s why every state, including Texas, has anti-stalking laws in place. However, each state’s stalking laws are different, so it’s important to know the particulars of the laws where you live.

In broad terms, Texas law defines stalking as a pattern of hostile behavior toward someone that the perpetrator knows or reasonably should know would cause the victim to fear for their safety, someone else’s safety, or cause emotional distress. Texas also has laws in place to punish people for stalking someone over the Internet, a practice that many people call “cyberstalking.”

The McKinney stalking defense lawyers at Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian can protect your rights and help you find the best possible outcome if the police accuse you of stalking or cyberstalking. Our criminal defense team has decades of experience and takes a professional, personalized approach to every case. Keep reading for more information on Texas’s stalking laws and how we can help if the police accuse you of stalking.

Texas Stalking and Cyberstalking Laws

According to the Texas Penal Code, someone commits the crime of stalking when they engage in a pattern of behavior that they know or should reasonably know would cause someone to feel emotional distress, fear for their safety, or fear for someone else’s safety. The behavior must be directed at a specific person, and there must be a pattern of behavior. In other words, the police cannot accuse someone of stalking for a one-time act.

Stalking covers a wide range of behaviors, such as:

  • Following someone or their friends and family
  • Vandalizing someone’s property
  • Repeatedly trying to contact someone over the phone, through email, or using other means when the victim does not want that contact
  • Tracking someone using a GPS device or other means
  • Watching someone from a distance without their permission
  • Repeatedly sending someone unwanted gifts
  • Implied or explicit threats

Texas also has a specific law in place that covers cyberstalking. This law includes provisions prohibiting people from using the Internet or other electronic means to harass or stalk someone. Some examples of cyberstalking that fall under this law include:

  • Making sexual comments about someone online or other forms of online sexual abuse or harassment
  • Bullying someone using social media or other electronic means
  • Going online to urge other people to harass someone
  • Monitoring someone’s Internet activities
  • Making false claims or accusations about someone online
  • Using the Internet or other electronic means to damage someone’s reputation

As with non-electronic stalking cases, there must be a pattern of hostile behavior toward someone for the police to accuse someone of a crime.

Potential Penalties for Stalking or Cyberstalking in Texas

Stalking is a third-degree felony in Texas, and the potential penalties for a conviction include up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If someone has a prior conviction for stalking and commits the offense again, they commit a second-degree felony. In Texas, the penalties for a second-degree felony include up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Cyberstalking can range from a Class B misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. At the low end, a conviction for cyberstalking could result in up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, while the penalties at the upper end are the same as those for a typical stalking charge.

A conviction for stalking or cyberstalking could have significant consequences for you, so taking these offenses seriously is essential if the police accuse you of a crime. Contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately if law enforcement accuses you of stalking or cyberstalking.

Our Stalking Defense Attorneys Are Ready to Protect Your Rights

A conviction for stalking or cyberstalking could have devastating consequences for your future, so you want help from an experienced and dedicated attorney if you are facing either of these charges. Our Texas stalking defense lawyers can help you with your case by:

  • Investigating the allegations against you and looking for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case
  • Helping you get released on bail while the legal process plays out
  • Suppressing any evidence obtained through an illegal search
  • Handling plea bargain negotiations with prosecutors if we believe a deal is in your best interest
  • Representing you in any court proceedings

You have no time to lose if you face allegations of stalking or cyberstalking. Call Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian today at (972) 369-0577 or visit our contact page for a free consultation.

Written by: Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian Last Updated : May 9, 2023