New York Stalking Frequently Asked Questions
While there are several criminal statutes in New York that define activities that amount to criminal stalking, at its most basic level criminal stalking is engaging in conduct such as following or monitoring that would make the victim reasonably fearful for his (or her) well-being. Elements of a stalking crime that generally must be present for someone to be prosecuted for stalking include:
- A pattern. Stalking is not a one time event. Stalking involves a pattern of intentional harassing or annoying conduct, such as repeated messages, following, monitoring, vandalism, and other unwanted behaviors.
- Harassment. The behavior is harassing or threatening.
- Fear. The behavior must result in the victim being reasonably fearful for his or her safety
Stalking can encompass a variety of actions and behaviors from physically following someone to monitoring someone via the internet. Some examples of stalking include:
- Following someone without their consent
- Monitoring someone’s computer
- Following or monitoring someone using GPS
- Sending someone unwanted letters, texts, or emails
- Monitoring someone via social media
- Abusing or killing the pet of the victim
- Violating a restraining order
- Watching someone at their private residence
- Showing up at someone's workplace, residence, or school without the person’s consent
- Gathering information about someone using private or public records
If the prosecutor decides to charge a defendant with stalking, the prosecutor must prove all elements of the crime. However, the defendant has the right to defend him or herself against the charges. There are a number of defenses to accusations of stalking, including:
- No credible threat. The law requires that the defendant’s actions cause the victim to experience fear. However, the fear must be reasonable. If the defendant did not make any type of verbal or physical gesture to indicate the potential for violence, there may be a good argument that the defendant presented no threat to the victim.
- Dishonest victim. If it is shown that the victim was untruthful about the defendant’s actions, the result may be an acquittal.
- Mistaken identity. Particularly when the stalking is carried out by a stranger, the victim may mistakenly identify the wrong person as the stalker. For a variety of reasons, the victim may also intentionally identify the wrong person.
In New York, a stalking charge can a misdemeanor or felony. The sentence for stalking will depend on the specific stalking charge. The following are the possible consequences for a stalking conviction:
- Imprisonment. If the conviction is for misdemeanor stalking, the sentence may include no jail time, or up a year. If the conviction is for a felony, the prison time may be up to several years.
- Fine. The fine may be in excess of $1000.
- Restitution. The defendant may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim for any loss that he or she suffered from the defendant’s actions.
- Order of protection. The court may require the defendant to stay away from the victim.
Stalking is a serious crime. The consequences of a stalking conviction may include incarceration, probation, fines, loss of employment, and a criminal record. It is imperative to have an experienced stalking attorney on your side to fight stalking accusations. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with misdemeanors and felonies. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of crimes in the following locations: Nassau County, Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Bronx, and Westchester County.