Stalking is more than a single act against a person

Stalking isn't often thought of as "violent," per se, but it can be one of the accusations made against someone also accused of family violence or abuse. Stalking isn't as simple as just following someone for a short time or accidentally running into your ex at the store. It occurs in many forms, both online and off.

What is stalking?

Stalking encompasses a variety of activities meant to intimidate or harass someone else, such as:

  • Following someone around
  • Vandalizing his or her property
  • Threatening or harassing him or her repeatedly
  • Sending the person repeated, unwanted snail mail, text messages or emails
  • Trolling or otherwise harassing someone on social media
  • Making repeated, unwanted phone calls
  • Leaving or sending unwanted "gifts" to the person
  • Doing anything that makes a person worry about their personal safety

Note that repetition is key here. There must be a history of any of the above behaviors before stalking can be charged. For example, if you happen to have an appointment in the same building as your ex-partner's workplace, that doesn't automatically turn you into a stalker. Going to your ex's office and vandalizing his car or sending her multiple offensive text messages could, though.

Are there different kinds of stalking?

Yes, although they're treated similarly by law after an accusation. The three types of stalking include simple obsession, love obsession and erotomania. Simple obsession stalking occurs when the person stalking simply knows the victim and seeks to harass them. Love obsession stalking is when a stalker's actions are motivated by unrequited love for the person they're following. Erotomania is the type of delusional stalking that typically involves celebrities or people the stalker doesn't actually know or can't interact with.

What are my options if I'm accused of stalking?

An accusation of stalking may offend you, but realize that these are serious allegations that can significantly restrict your activities if you're convicted. There are multiple ways to defend yourself against stalking allegations, including showing that you only coincidentally ran into your ex or that you had a legitimate reason for reaching out to them. Remember, the court is looking for repetition of the offensive behavior. A skilled criminal defense attorney can review the allegations against you and help you defend your rights.

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