Many are surprised to learn they’ve been charged with a criminal offense for menacing or stalking. But regardless of your feelings, the consequences could haunt you for life if you’re convicted.
It is crucial for anyone accused of menacing or stalking to prepare a defense. As experienced Houston stalking & menacing defense lawyers, the Law Offices of Ned Barnett can help. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation at (713) 222-6767.
Stalking & Menacing in Texas
According to Section 42.072, an individual may be charged with stalking if they knowingly direct behavior at another person designed to threaten severe bodily injury or death to the alleged victim, their family members, or their property.
Stalking also applies when a victim or anyone they have a relationship with is in fear of bodily injury or death, harassed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, offended, or annoyed.
Under Section 42.07, harassment involves knowingly and intentionally threatening to embarrass, annoy, harass, torment, abuse, or harm another. Harassment can include causing a victim distress, including sending unwanted direct messages, emails, text messages, or repeatedly calling them.
Stalking and menacing may also be charged alongside other criminal offenses, such as:
Stalking Charges May Result From
It is common for people charged with stalking to be unsure why they face charges. Multiple scenarios can result in stalking and menacing allegations. Some examples include:
- Sending unwanted messages or gifts
- Leaving objects or notes for the alleged victim
- Following the alleged victim
- Repeatedly showing up at the alleged victim’s home or workplace
- Constantly calling or texting the alleged victim
- Sending threatening social media messages, emails, or direct messages
- Vandalizing the alleged victim’s property
- Following the alleged victim’s family members or anyone they are in a relationship with
- Repeatedly driving by the alleged victim’s work, home, or other locations they frequent
- Repeatedly watching the alleged victim from a distance
- Using any device to convey obscene proposals, suggestions, requests, or comments
- Using software or GPS to track the alleged victim without their knowledge or consent
- Waiting for the alleged victim to leave or arrive at specific locations
- Repeatedly placing anonymous calls to embarrass, annoy, torment, or alarm
- Using another person’s phone or device to harass the alleged victim
- Making a false report that the alleged victim has suffered severe bodily injury or death
- Any act that causes the alleged victim to feel threatened or harassed
These are just a few instances where you might be charged with stalking or menacing. Contact a lawyer to appreciate and deal with the situation if you face allegations.
Stalking & Menacing Penalties in TX
Usually charged as a felony in Texas, the penalties for stalking and menacing are severe. If you are convicted of felony stalking, you face up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If you are convicted of harassment, you could be ordered to pay fines not to exceed $4,000 and spend up to one year in prison.
Aggravating & Mitigating Factors
If mitigating factors are present, it is more likely the district attorney will be willing to work with you. For instance, maybe you were unaware your actions were causing fear. By seeking counseling or demonstrating remorse, you may be able to work out a favorable resolution or plea.
But if aggravating factors make your charges more severe, you are more likely to be charged with a felony. Aggravating factors could include engaging in persistent threatening behaviors, inflicting severe harm, or stalking someone under a protective order.
Generally, stalking and menacing are third-degree felonies for a first offense. However, if the alleged victim is a minor, elderly, or disabled, you could expect your charges to be elevated to a second-degree felony.
A second-degree felony carries more severe penalties. Prison time could increase to as much as 20 years. In the worst-case scenario, if your stalking charges rise to a first-degree felony, you will be forced to pay fines of up to $10,000. You could also be sentenced to 99 years or life in prison.
Living with a Stalking and Menacing Conviction
In addition to the criminal penalties, a conviction for stalking will affect your life in other ways.
For example, your reputation will likely be destroyed if it becomes public that you are accused of stalking. Other collateral consequences could include:
- Trouble with child custody or visitation
- Issues with immigration or citizenship
- Loss of firearm rights
- Being required to register as a sex offender
- Loss of your driver’s license
- Suspension or revocation of your professional license
- Loss of your right to vote
- Trouble finding quality employment
- Difficulty securing safe housing
- Loss of government assistance, including food stamp or student loan eligibility
Defending Against Stalking & Menacing
Working with a stalking and menacing attorney is the best way to determine which defenses will most likely result in a favorable outcome like an acquittal or reduction to a misdemeanor.
Unfortunately, stalking and menacing accusations make it challenging to defend yourself. Although prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, many juries go into the case with preconceived notions about what happened and your guilt.
Some defenses frequently used to challenge menacing and stalking allegations include:
- The behaviors do not meet the legal definition of harassment, stalking, or menacing
- The alleged victim encouraged or gave consent to the actions or behaviors
- The alleged victim did not suffer severe emotional distress or fear for their safety
- Evidence should be dismissed since it was obtained unlawfully
Your attorney will consider the evidence and determine whether it is possible to show that you had no intent to frighten, threaten, or harm anyone. For example, suppose you were attempting to reconnect with someone you previously had a relationship with. In that case, you might be able to show that your behavior was warranted and did not amount to harassment or stalking.
This could dramatically weaken the case against you. If this happens, they may be more willing to reduce your felony charges to a lesser offense or drop them altogether.
The Benefit of a Houston Stalking & Menacing Defense Lawyer
Attorney Ned Barnett has extensive experience handling stalking, menacing, and sex offenses across Texas. He has unique leadership in this area and the added benefit of experience as a former prosecutor. He knows how to deal with these charges discreetly and promptly so you can return to your life.
With the Law Offices of Ned Barnett working for you, you can better address possible misunderstandings, intervene early, and address stalking allegations before the state files formal charges. With our personalized approach, you can rest easier knowing our team is fighting to clear your name.
Contact the Law Offices of Ned Barnett
Stalking and menacing convictions can have a devastating effect on your life. Protect yourself with help from a reputable Houston stalking & menacing defense lawyer. At the Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we offer free and confidential consultations to those facing criminal charges across Houston and surrounding areas.
Call our office at (713) 222-6767 for a free consultation.