If you’ve been charged with stalking, it’s important that you understand Virginia’s legal definition, the consequences of this crime, and how to build a defense against it.
Stalking Is a Crime in Virginia
Unless you are a police officer or a registered private investigator on official business, it’s possible that you could be charged with stalking if on more than one occasion your conduct intends to put a person or a person’s family in fear of:
- Criminal sexual assault
- Bodily injury
Conduct that is considered stalking can include following someone around, making repeated phone calls, or contacting the person repeatedly online.
A first offense of stalking is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and the potential penalty includes up to 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine, and a no-contact order between you and the victim.
If you are convicted of stalking twice within five years, you will be charged with a Class 6 felony and the potential penalty includes up to five years in prison, a $2,500 fine, and a no-contact order between you and the victim.
Before you can be convicted of stalking, the prosecutor must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. You can defend yourself by working with an experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyer to show why there is reasonable doubt in your case. For example, your lawyer may present evidence that:
- You were not the one who did the stalking
- A reasonable person would not be put in fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury by the actions you took
- You did not intend to make the victim fearful, and you could not have reasonably known that your conduct would make the victim fearful
It is important to act quickly if you have been charged with stalking in Virginia. Contact our Northern Virginia criminal defense lawyer today for an honest assessment of your case and for more information about how to protect your legal rights and your future.