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New York Stalking Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Stalking?

Stalking is engaging in conduct such as following or monitoring that would make the victim reasonably fearful for their well-being. Elements of a stalking crime that generally must be present for someone to be prosecuted for stalking include a pattern of unwanted harassing, threatening or annoying conduct that results in the victim being reasonably fearful for their safety. While stalking is closely associated with domestic violence and victims often know their stalkers, stalkers can also be strangers.

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What Type of Behavior Is Considered Stalking?

In addition to physically following someone, there are many other actions that can form the basis of a stalking (link to: charge, including:

  • Monitoring the victim’s computer without their consent
  • Following or monitoring the victim using GPS without their consent
  • Sending the victim unwanted letters, texts, or emails
  • Monitoring the victim via social media
  • Abusing or killing the pet of the victim
  • Showing up at the victim's workplace, residence, or school without their consent

However, stalking charges are based on a pattern of behavior, not a one-time occurrence.

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Are There Any Legal Defenses to Accusations of Stalking?

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.

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What Are the Penalties for Stalking in New York?

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.

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Is Stalking a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

There are misdemeanor stalking offenses and felony stalking offenses. Stalking behavior that is limited and does not involve physical contact may be classified as a misdemeanor. However, if the stalking is repeated, if the stalker is a felon, if the stalker violates an order of protection, if the stalker has a weapon, or if the stalker also assaults the victim, the stalker will be charged with a felony.

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Still Have Questions? Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates for Help

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 800.NY.NY.LAW (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.

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