Allegations that you made someone feel unsafe can lead to criminal charges if they involve one or more specific patterns of behavior addressed under state law. In these circumstances, criminal charges for “stalking” can carry severe consequences upon conviction, potentially including years of imprisonment and steep fines commensurate with a felony offense.
Contesting these charges and preventing serious penalties is easier with help from a defense attorney. A New Haven stalking lawyer at Ruane Attorneys can fight tirelessly for your rights and work to resolve the case with minimal impact on your life.
Defining Stalking as a Criminal Offense
There are three degrees of criminal stalking defined under the Connecticut Penal Code, two of which are categorized as misdemeanor offenses. The most basic form of this offense is stalking in the third degree. Connecticut General Statute §53a-181e defines this offense as someone intentionally and repeatedly following or waiting for another person and, in doing so, recklessly causing that person to experience emotional distress or fear for their physical safety. This class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
As per C.G.S. §53a-181d, second-degree stalking entails someone knowingly engaging in two or more actions that involve following, lying in wait for, threatening, harassing, or interfering with the property of a targeted person. These actions must reasonably cause that person:
- To fear for their physical safety or that of a third person
- To fear of injury to their pet, to any other animal in their possession or control
- Emotional distress
- Damage to their business, career, or professional reputations, provided that certain additional criteria apply
Disclosing someone’s personal information online without consent or any legitimate reason can also be prosecuted as second-degree stalking under this statute, as a New Haven attorney could further explain. This offense is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine.
When Does Stalking Become a Felony?
As defined by C.G.S. §53a-181c, first-degree stalking involves engaging in second-degree stalking with one of the following factors:
- A prior conviction for the same offense
- Acting in violation of a court order
- Targeting someone under 16 years old (if the offender is over 22 years old)
- Targeting a member of a protected class
As a class D felony, a conviction under this statute is punishable by a prison term of up to five years and a maximum $5,000 fine. Furthermore, C.G.S. §53a-181f specifically defines “electronic stalking” as a class D felony as well. This offense involves stalking through an electronic communication service or system.
Regardless of the specific stalking charge, working with a lawyer at our New Haven office is essential to building a tailored defense.
Speak with a New Haven Stalking Attorney Today
Stalking allegations often make for complex criminal cases, as there may be limited objective evidence supporting either side. In these situations, representation from legal counsel can make a huge difference in your ability to defend against the charges and protect your future prospects.
Meeting with a New Haven stalking lawyer is an important first step toward achieving a positive case resolution. Call Ruane Attorneys today to schedule a consultation and discuss your options.