Understanding Stalking Charges in the State of Georgia
Stalking is considered a serious crime that can carry significant sentencing. Stalking is no longer limited to traditional forms of contact, as it now encompasses new forms of electronic communication. In some cases, alleged victims of stalking will provide false information to authorities or mistakenly identify their stalker, so it is critical to understand what constitutes stalking in the state of Georgia.
In the state of Georgia, a person commits the offense of stalking (O.C.G.A. § 16-5-90) when he or she follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or near a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person. The means of contact can come in a wide variety of forms, including communication in person or by telephone, mail, broadcast, computer, computer network, or any other electronic device. Harassing and intimidating is defined as a deliberate course of conduct directed at an individual that causes emotional distress by placing a person in reasonable fear for their own safety, or for the safety of their immediate family, by establishing a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior, and which serves no legitimate purpose.
In addition, a person also commits the offense of stalking when they violate the terms of a court order intended to keep peace and prevent harassment or stalking through actions that cause the victim to be harassed or intimidated by others.
If a person is found guilty of stalking in the state of Georgia, they will be charged with a Misdemeanor.
Aggravated Stalking Charges
A person commits aggravated stalking (O.C.G.A. §16-5-91) when they commit the offense of stalking in addition to any of the following circumstances:
- In the course and furtherance of stalking, displays a deadly weapon;
- The victim of the offense was less than eighteen years of age at any time during the person’s course of conduct, and the person is five or more years older than the victim;
- Has previously been convicted of stalking within seven years of the offense;
- Makes a credible threat to the victim or the victim’s immediate family with the intent to place any such person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury; or
- At the time of the offense, was prohibited from making contact with the victim under a court-imposed prohibition of conduct toward the victim or the victim’s property, and the person knowingly violates the injunction, order, or court-imposed prohibition.
If a person is found guilty of aggravated stalking in the state of Georgia, they will be charged with a felony and can face sentencing of up to ten years of jail time.
If you’ve been accused of stalking, it is imperative that you understand your rights.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.