The concept of stalking under state law carries a broad definition. In short, this means following or watching a person without their consent for the purpose of harassing or intimidating them. Police and prosecutors may pursue charges for stalking based on coincidences or misunderstandings—for instance, the defendant might have just been going about their day. Regardless of the circumstances, you need legal representation from a Bridgeport stalking lawyer when you face these accusations.
Defenses against these charges must closely examine the alleged stalking and compare the prosecutor’s evidence to the language of the law. Ruane Attorneys is prepared to formulate these defenses. We can explain the state’s stalking laws, evaluate the strength of the prosecutor’s evidence, and present defenses in court to contest the case against you.
The Legal Definition of Stalking
In general, stalking describes any activity that causes another person to reasonably fear for their safety. More specifically, Connecticut General Statute § 53a-181e defines stalking in the third degree as recklessly causing another to fear for their safety or be in emotional distress.
There are two other degrees of stalking under state law. According to CT Gen. Stat. § 53a-181d, stalking in the second degree is when a person’s intentional acts cause another to feel fear or emotional distress. CT Gen. Stat. § 53a-181c says that stalking in the first degree charges can result when an accused person:
Our Bridgeport attorney can further explain how state law defines the various degrees of stalking.
Sentencing for Stalking Charges in Bridgeport
Convictions for third and second-degree stalking cases are misdemeanors. A misdemeanor conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to one year, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. In addition, the alleged victims may ask the court to create a restraining order upon opening the case, and the court may make this order permanent upon conviction.
First-degree stalking convictions are felonies that carry a five-year maximum prison sentence. Regardless of the severity of stalking charges, a defendant should consult a nearby lawyer on the potential penalties and discuss options for defending the case.
Defending Against Stalking Charges
To prove a stalking charge at trial, a prosecutor must demonstrate that the defendant followed or contacted an alleged victim without their consent. Additionally, the prosecutor must show that the defendant made contact with the intention of harassing or intimidating their target.
A Bridgeport stalking lawyer can work to create reasonable doubt about either of these concepts. This could involve introducing evidence that the contact was consensual. It could also involve showing that the defendant did not intend to intimidate or bother the alleged victim. Showing either of these concepts could help defeat a prosecutor’s case in court.
Speak with a Bridgeport Stalking Attorney Immediately
Accusations of stalking require a proactive defense strategy. Even a mere arrest for these charges could result in a court creating a restraining order that severely limits your movements and activities. Convictions come with even harsher penalties, including jail time and significant fines.
A Bridgeport stalking lawyer can help prevent these penalties and minimize the impact on your life. At Ruane Attorneys, we can work to show that your contact with another person was a consensual meetup or that you did not intend to cause any alarm or fear. Contact our firm today to set up a consultation and take the first step in protecting your future.