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How Do I Defend Against Stalking Charges in Illinois?

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Joliet, IL stalking charges defense attorney

A lot of people do not think of stalking as a form of domestic violence, but it can be just as devastating to a victim as physical abuse. Stalking can come in many different forms, especially now with the prevalence of electronic communication and social media outlets. Illinois law has different categories when it comes to stalking charges, but stalking is generally defined as engaging in conduct that makes another person, the victim, fear for his or her own safety and/or suffers emotional distress. Whether it be actually following someone or harassment through text messages, it is important to know how Illinois law defines the different types of stalking and their penalties if you are ever faced with this kind of charge.  

Types of Stalking

The obvious form of stalking that everyone knows about is the act of one person following another from place to place with the intent to commit bodily harm or even kidnap the victim. However, Illinois also observes stalking as being any of the following:

  • Threatening a victim with bodily harm

  • Sexual assault

  • Restraint of a victim or threats of restraint against the victim’s family

  • Taking unlawful surveillance of the victim without his or her consent or knowledge.

Any person convicted of stalking of this nature will be charged with a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to two years in prison and fines of up to $25,000 for the first offense. Subsequent offenses are charged as a Class 3 felony, punishable by two to five years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

Stalking becomes a more serious crime when bodily harm or actual abduction occurs. Then, the charges turn into aggravated stalking. The state of Illinois also views the violation of a temporary restraining order as aggravated stalking, which is a Class 3 felony for a first offense. Subsequent offenses will be charged as a Class 2 felony, punishable by three to seven years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

As the use of social media websites has increased, cyberstalking has become more serious. Illinois law defines this offense as engaging in electronic communication directed toward a victim who becomes fearful for his or her safety or experiences emotional distress. In severe cases, victims have committed suicide as a result of cyberstalking. Any person convicted of cyberstalking can face a Class 4 felony sentence for a first offense and a Class 3 felony for subsequent offenses.

How to Avoid a Stalking Conviction

There are several defense strategies that an alleged stalker could utilize in order to avoid a wrongful conviction:

  • Intent: An alleged stalker could argue that he or she had no intention of causing harm to the victim of the stalking.

  • A mistake of fact: An alleged stalker could say that the incident under investigation was simply a “wrong place at the wrong time” type of scenario and that he or she was not purposefully following the alleged victim.

  • Duress or coercion: The alleged stalker could say that someone forced or persuaded him or her to stalk or harass the victim, and he or she would not have done so without the third party’s involvement.

  • Insanity: The alleged stalker could say he or she was not in the right state of mind to distinguish the difference between right and wrong when the alleged stalking took place.

The above defense strategies are only for stalking charges. Unfortunately, if a person is charged with stalking, he or she can sometimes also face charges of breaking and entering, trespassing, or intimidating a witness.

Contact a Joliet, IL Criminal Defense Attorney

Cases involving stalking are usually complicated and sensitive for both parties involved. These are serious charges that can carry stiff penalties depending on the circumstances of the incident(s). If you or someone you know is facing stalking charges, you need to seek legal counsel so you understand your options for defending against these accusations. The Law Offices of Tedone & Morton P.C. will collect evidence and build a strong defense strategy for you. To schedule a free consultation with a Will County domestic violence defense lawyer, call 815-666-1285 today.




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