Although Georgia's stalking laws are meant to protect people, they can lead innocent people facing serious criminal charges. Stalking is a serious criminal offense in the state of Georgia and one you should not take lightly. If you have been charged with stalking or aggravated stalking in Georgia, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can protect your rights. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today and see how we can help you with your criminal case.What Counts as Stalking in Georgia?
Under Georgia law, a person commits the crime of stalking when they repeatedly follow a specific person, place that person under surveillance, or contact that person via phone call, in person, by mail, or through electronic communications such as social media or email. These acts must have been carried out a) without the consent of the other party, b) for no legitimate purpose (such as collecting a debt), and c) in order to harass or intimidate the other party.
Georgia defines "harassing and intimidating" as a pattern of behavior that aims to cause emotional distress by putting the other party in reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of their loved ones. Note that there does not have to be a specific threat of bodily harm involved. For example, frequently leaving unwanted gifts or letters in the other party's mail or on their doorstep could count as a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior.
Note that a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior has to be established for an act to be considered stalking. If you are charged with stalking, the court will have to prove that there were repeated instances of you engaging in this sort of behavior towards your alleged victim. A single incident of harassment is not enough to establish a conviction for stalking.
The court will also need to prove that your alleged victim did not consent to the acts that led to your stalking charge. They will also need to establish that you willfully and knowingly intended to inflict emotional distress on your alleged victim. Finally, the court must prove that your conduct would have been enough to upset a reasonable person in order to successfully convict you of stalking.
Your alleged victim may have also provided false information to police or mistakenly identified you as the stalker. In this case, you will have to prove that you were innocent of all charges. No matter the case, you will want a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side. A stalking charge is not something to take lightly, and you do not want to face these charges alone.Penalties for Stalking in Georgia
A first-time stalking offense in Georgia is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.00 and up to 1 year of jail time. Additional convictions for stalking are considered felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison. You may also be subjected to a psychological evaluation before you are convicted. If you have not undergone a psychological evaluation, the judge may require you to undergo psychological treatment as part of your sentence or a condition of probation.
Finally, the judge may place a permanent restraining order against you during your sentencing. This order is meant to protect your alleged victim and their family by keeping you from stalking them further. Violating the terms of this restraining order can potentially lead to a charge of aggravated stalking.Aggravated Stalking
Aggravated stalking is one of the most serious and unfortunately common forms of stalking in Georgia. A person is charged with aggravated stalking when they continue engaging in stalking behavior towards an individual in violation of a restraining order, the terms of their probation or parole, or a temporary or permanent injunction.
Aggravated stalking is considered a felony under Georgia law, and is a charge you should take very seriously. If you are convicted of aggravated stalking, you could find yourself facing up to 10 years in prison and paying a fine of up to $10,000.00. Contact our law office today and see how our attorneys can help you defend against your aggravated stalking charges.