Stalking & Harassment Charges
(To read the statute: TCA 39-13-315.)
Stalking and harassment charges tend to have a strong factual basis and range from the spurned lover who can’t let go to the seriously disturbed, delusional and dangerous predator. In the case of the former, the criminal defense lawyer may be able keep the client’s record clean.
Stalking is a pattern of harassment. Harassment is conduct involving repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress. Emotional distress is significant mental suffering. The statute is vague about what constitutes mental suffering. It does not require that the sufferer is so injured as to require professional treatment.
Unconsented contact means any contact with another person that is initiated or continued without that person’s consent. Arguably, that would include a man approaching a woman in a bar. Unconsented contact can, according to the statute, mean simply appearing within sight of the purported victim.
For harassment to rise to the level of a crime is must cause the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.
In a trial, evidence that the defendant continued to engage in a course of conduct involving repeated unconsented contact with the victim after having been requested by the victim to discontinue the conduct is prima facie evidence that the continuation of the course of conduct caused the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested. As a practical matter, this means a jury could infer that the victim felt terrorized, frightened, etc. without direct proof.
Stalking ranges from a Class A misdemeanor up to a Class C felony.