Common Questions about Stalking Laws in Arizona
No matter where you are in the United States, stalking is a crime. However, each jurisdiction has a unique definition of what stalking is and the types of punishments it may incur. In Arizona, stalking is considered a Class 5 felony on a first offense, so it is a serious charge to be brought against an individual. Because stalking can take many forms and the laws in Arizona differ from those of other states, it is helpful to understand local laws on the subject. The following questions and statistics provide an overview of how stalking is dealt with under Arizona law. Due to the gravity of a stalking conviction, you should immediately contact a defense attorney if you are25 accused of this crime.
What constitutes stalking?
Stalking may take many forms. It might include showing up uninvited to a victim’s home or workplace. It could include excessive emails, messages, or phone calls. It could also include unwanted gifts or letters. These actions and others like them constitute a course of conduct to cause fear for an individual’s personal safety, as well as that of his or her family. The threat of potential violence in these actions may be express or implied, but for this type of harassment to constitute stalking, there must be a repeated pattern of harassment, threats, or unwanted contact from a specific individual. While stalking does not always include explicitly violent behaviors, it can escalate over time. Below is a more detailed list of potential stalking behaviors:
Monitoring phone calls, emails, or social media activity
Going through garbage or personal property
Posting information or spreading rumors
Sending frequent unwanted messages, phone calls, or gifts
Threatening harm against an individual or his or her family and loved ones
Following an individual or frequently driving by an individual’s home, workplace, or
other known hangouts
Any action to control or track another individual’s behavior
What are the possible outcomes of a stalking conviction in Arizona?
Stalking carries different consequences in different states. Arizona is among only one-third of states in the U.S. that considers stalking a felony on the first offense. It is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 2.5 years of prison time, along with significant fines. However, if there is a threat or fear of death, then the crime becomes a Class 3 felony. Prison time for this charge may range from 2-8 years.
Stalking crimes can also be complicated by a number of factors that can increase the criminal charges against an individual. For example, if there is a protective order that prevented the defendant from contacting the victim, then additional charges may be filed along with stalking. Prior felony offenses, threats made with a deadly weapon, and young age of the victim (under 16 years of age) will also increase the severity of the charges against a defendant.
How do you build a legal defense against a stalking charge?
Every criminal case is unique, which is why it is important to consult an attorney as soon as charges are raised against you, even if you feel you are innocent. In some cases, individuals accused of stalking will feel that a misunderstanding has occurred, and they will try to reason with the victim personally. However, you should never approach the victim in your case or have any contact with the victim whatsoever. Additionally, you should only speak to law enforcement or provide evidence in your case with an attorney present.
In building a defense against a stalking charge, your attorney will investigate the case to assess whether the prosecution has sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that stalking occurred. In some cases, the victim may have provided false information or misidentified the defendant as their stalker. In other situations, there may be an element of coincidence to consider. For example, if the defendant worked in a building near the victim, then he or she would likely be seen every day and may not have necessarily been following the victim to work. Regardless of the exact circumstances, your attorney will work throughout your case to defend your rights and present your side of the story.
How common is stalking?
According to the Stalking Resource Center, 7.5 million people are stalked each year in the United States. In 11% of cases, victims have been stalked for five years or more. The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know. In 2/3 of cases, victims are pursued at least once per week using multiple methods of contact and intimidation.
If you are accused of any crime, your first call should be to a criminal defense lawyer. Janet Altschuler is an experienced, aggressive defense attorney serving clients in Tucson, and she will work to uphold your rights and create the best possible outcome in your case. To learn more about her work, continue browsing our website or call (520) 247-1789.