Detroit Stalking Attorney
The criminal definition of stalking is harassing or persecuting another person with unwanted and obsessive attention. If you are accused of having unconsented contact with a particular individual, despite their protests or asking you to stop, you may be charged with stalking under Michigan law. You can also be charged with stalking without ever coming into direct contact with the individual, if you make that person feel scared, unsafe, or harassed.
However the accusations come about, you need to address them. Yet, you should not try to handle these allegations or charges on your own. Trying to manage the criminal court process yourself could increase your risk of a conviction or harsh penalty. Instead, it is best to call a Detroit violent crimes lawyer for help.
What Is Stalking?
Michigan defines stalking in the Michigan Penal Code Section 750.411h(1)(d). The law states stalking is:
- A willful course of conduct,
- Involving repeated and continuing harassment of another individual, which
- Would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested, and which
- Actually causes the target to feel this way.
If you have been charged with stalking, and you are unsure of the law, do not hesitate to contact a Detroit stalking attorney for more information.
What a Prosecutor Must Prove to Convict You of a Stalking
It is important to break stalking down to its essential elements. If you are charged with stalking, a prosecutor must prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
A prosecutor must prove that your actions were intentional. Next, they must establish there was a course of conduct, which means there are repeated actions over a period of time, such as weeks or months. Michigan law says there must be two or more separate, non-continuous acts. A prosecutor may not be able to prove stalking if the alleged conduct only occurs for one or two days.
The prosecutor must show that your alleged conduct was unreasonable. Any ordinary person who was subjected to this treatment would feel uncomfortable, aggravated, or worse yet, in danger.
Finally, the prosecutor must show that the alleged target actually did feel scared, harassed, or threatened. Under Michigan’s stalking law, if the target ever asked you to stop any form of unconsented contact, and to not have any further contact with them, then any further actions on your part create a rebuttable presumption that the target feels terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.
Under the law, unconsented contact in regard to stalking means:
- Following or appearing in the target’s sight
- Approaching or confronting the target in a public place or on private property
- Appearing at the target’s workplace or home
- Entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by the target
- Contacting the target by phone
- Sending the target emails or electronic communications
- Placing an object on, or delivery an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by the target
These are examples of common forms of stalking, however it is not an exhaustive list.
When you have been charged with stalking, one of our Detroit stalking lawyers will explain Michigan law and what prosecutors must prove to convict you. We will go over your case piece by piece so that you understand what is going on. If your case goes to trial, we will thoroughly prepare you for what to expect and how to testify on your own behalf.
Michigan Stalking Laws and Penalties
Under Section 750.411(h)(2), if you are accused of engaging in stalking, you may be charged with a misdemeanor offense. You can be punished by a fine up to $1,000 and incarceration of up to one year.
However, if the target of the stalking was under 18 years old during the course of conduct, and you were at least five years older than this person, then you will be charged with a felony. You can be fined up to $10,000 and incarcerated up to five years.
For either a misdemeanor or felony stalking conviction, you can be placed on probation for a maximum of five years. During the probationary period, you may be ordered to:
- Not stalk any individual;
- Not have any contact with the target; and
- Be evaluated by a mental health professional, and if appropriate, receive counseling at your own expense.
Types of Stalking
If you think Michigan’s definition of stalking is broad, that is because it is. Stalking is the kind of offense that can involve many types of actions. Also, psychological studies and profiling had found stalking occurs for a variety of reasons. In essence, there are different types of stalkers, including:
- The rejected stalker: This is someone who begins stalking their target after a close relationship breaks down. Most often, a rejected stalker is a former sexual partner. It can also be a family member or former close friend. This is the most persistent and intrusive type of stalker. They will often use intimidation tactics and assault. This stalker is highly resistant to ending the behavior.
- The resentful stalker: This is someone who feels mistreated by the target or by someone or something the target represents. The stalker may also believe that they have been victimized by some form of humiliation or injustice. The stalker and the target are often strangers or acquaintances. The stalker wants to frighten or distress the target and is often the most obsessive type. They are not likely to use physical assault but will verbally threaten the target.
- The intimacy seeking stalker: This person begins stalking out of a lack of close relationships and loneliness. They are often mentally ill and may suffer from delusions that a relationship already exists. The target is often a stranger or acquaintance who becomes the focus of the stalker’s desire for a relationship. The stalker’s goal is a loving and intimate relationship. Second to the rejected stalker, this person is extremely persistent.
- The incompetent stalker: This person also begins stalking based on loneliness. The motivation is to establish a date or short-term sexual relationship, not a loving or emotionally intimate relationship. Often times, these stalkers’ course of conduct is brief, though it can persist for a longer period of time because they cannot tell or do not care about the target’s feelings. This is often associated with a lack of social skills or cognitive limitations.
- The predatory stalker: This is someone—usually male—who stalks someone—usually a woman—based on sexual interest. They stalk due to deviant sexual interests or behaviors. This type of stalking can be used to obtain sexual gratification through the course of conduct or as the initial steps to sexual assault. The stalker does not necessarily contact or harass the target but instead surveils them.
Prosecutors may use evidence regarding these types of stalkers in a case against you. They may hire expert witnesses to identify signs that you belong to one of these profiles. By hiring a Detroit stalking attorney, you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will fight back against these claims. We may seek to question the accuracy of a profile, or we may present evidence that you do not fit into a profile the prosecutor says you do.
Call Davis Law Group to Discuss the Right Stalking Defense For You
There are several ways to defend against stalking charges in Michigan. The best strategy will depend on your circumstances, but Davis Law Group can help. One method is to attack each element of the case. We only need to create doubt for at least one of these elements to prevent the prosecutor from proving their case. We may focus on your lack of intent. You may not have intended to have unconsented contact with the alleged target. We may argue there was no course of conduct. Simply running into or interacting with the alleged target two or more times is not enough. We also may argue that a reasonable person would not be afraid, harasses, or scared by your actions.