Stalking is considered a serious crime in Massachusetts. The state has laws that explain what it entails and what penalties come with a conviction.
What is stalking?
Stalking is a crime that occurs when a person continuously follows and harasses someone after they have been asked to stop. If a person is arrested for stalking, there are certain elements that must be in place during their trial that prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They include the following:
• The defendant knowingly and willingly behaved in a certain manner toward the victim over an extended period of time.
• The victim suffered emotional distress just as any reasonable person would over the actions of the defendant.
• The victim was annoyed or fearful of the defendant’s actions.
• The defendant’s actions were performed willfully and maliciously.
• The defendant threatened the victim deliberately to instill the fear of imminent bodily injury or death.
A person is considered guilty of stalking if they make a threat toward the victim in any form. For example, it doesn’t matter if it’s in person, by phone, through text message, over email or through social media.
What are the penalties for a stalking conviction?
Stalking is classified as a felony in Massachusetts. If a person is found guilty and convicted of the crime, they can face up to five years incarceration in state prison or a maximum fine of $1,000 or both. However, for a second stalking conviction, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in jail or up to 10 years in state prison.
If a person violates a restraining order in place for stalking, they can face an additional mandatory minimum sentence of one year in state prison.