According to a study conducted in conjunction by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), one out of every 12 women has been stalked, and one out of every 45 men has been stalked at some time in their life. Stalking is a serious crime that affects many individuals. In most cases the stalker isn’t a stranger. The stalker may be a current or former intimate partner, a friend, customer, coworker, or an acquaintance. Stalking is commonly defined as any unwanted contact that communicates a threat or places the victim in fear. The most common instances of stalking occur when the stalker monitors a victim’s actions, conversations with other people, and Internet and email usage. Most instances of stalking are conducted in order for the stalker to try to re-establish a former intimate relationship or to feel connected to a person with whom they do not and/or cannot have a relationship. As many instances of stalking leads to further harassment and often escalates into more violent crimes, stalking is actively investigated and aggressively prosecuted. Under Massachusetts’ Stalking law, stalking is defined in two parts. First, stalking is a willful and malicious pattern of conduct that seriously alarms and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress. (M.G.L. Chapter 265, Section 43) Second, like many other states, Massachusetts’ stalking law also requires that a stalker directly threaten a victim. If you feel you are being stalked, you are encouraged to get help immediately. On the other hand, if you feel that you have wrongfully been accused of stalking, please do not hesitate to contact a skilled Massachusetts attorney who is experienced with the crime of stalking.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, Section 43 provides that anyone who (1) willfully and maliciously engages in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotion distress, and (2) makes a threat with the intent to place the person in imminent dear of death of bodily injury shall be punishable under the law. If the offender is found guilty of the crime of stalking, they are subject to the following penalties:
- Imprisonment in the state prison for no more than 5 years, or
- Imprisonment in a house of correction for no more than 2.5 years, or
- A fine not to exceed $1,000, or
- Both fine and imprisonment.
General Laws c. 265, s. 43(C) establishes a mandatory minimum for repeat offenders. An offender convicted of a second or subsequent offense of stalking shall be subject to the following punishments:
- Imprisonment in a jail or the state prison for a mandatory minimum of 2 years but no more than 10 years.
General Laws c. 265, s. 43(B) creates an aggravated form of this offense with a mandatory minimum penalty for those convicted. The law dictates that whoever commits the crime of stalking in violation of a temporary or permanent vacate, restraining, or no-contact order shall be punished by the following:
- Imprisonment in a jail or the state prison for a mandatory minimum or 1 year, but not more than 5 years.
In order for a defendant to be found guilty of the crime of stalking, the prosecution must be able to prove five elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant knowingly engaged in a pattern of conduct or series of acts involving at least three incidents directed at the alleged victim over a period of time;
- Those acts were of a kind that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress;
- Those acts actually caused the alleged victim to become seriously alarmed or annoyed;
- The defendant engaged in those actions willfully and maliciously; and
- The defendant also made a threat with the intention of placing the alleged victim in imminent fear of death or bodily injury.
The crime of stalking is a serious offense, whether you are being stalked or facing charges of stalking. In either situation, it is recommended that you seek help and legal counsel at once. At the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy, we provide thorough, focused and detailed defense for all charges of stalking and aggravated stalking. We work one-on-one with our clients and thoroughly evaluate all the available evidence in order to devise the best possible strategy for defense. If you have been charged with stalking or are living in fear due to stalking, contact us 24/7 by calling (617) 367-0450 or submit the online contact form to schedule a free consultation.