Aggravated Stalking

Stalking 2 Lansing Michigan Aggravated Stalking Attorney

 

Aggravated Stalking involves stalking with an aggravating factor, or a factor that makes it a worse crime. This offense is a felony with steep penalties.

 

The charge involves all the elements of stalking and one of the following aggravating factors:

 

  • at least one of the actions is in violation of a Personal Protection Order (restraining order) for which the offender has actual notice
  • at least one of the actions is a violation of a condition of probation, parole, pretrial release, or release on bond pending appeal
  • one or more credible threats against the victim, member of the victim’s family, or another person living in the victim’s household
  • offender has a previous conviction for stalking

 

Credible Threat– a threat to kill or inflict physical injury on another person, made so that it causes the person hearing the threat to reasonably fear for their safety or the safety of another.

 

Punishment: This is a felony which carries up to five years in prison and/or $10,000 in fines. If placed on probation, it must be for a term of at least five years. Most felonies carry a maximum probationary period of five years, this one requires at least five years. That is how serious Michigan treats stalking.

 

If the victim is under 18 and there is at least a five year age difference between the offender and victim, it carries up to 10 years in prison and/or $15,000 in fines.

 

Constitutional Challenges

 

There have been many constitutional challenges to Michigan’s stalking laws, but they have not been successful. Most of the challenges have been on First Amendment grounds (alleging that offenders are being prosecuted for what should be conduct protected by free speech) and for vagueness (not specific enough so that an offender would know what type of conduct is permissible and what type is not).

 

Statutory Presumption

 

If the defendant persisted in contacting the victim after the victim said “no”, there is a rebuttable presumption that the continued contact caused the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested. The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the argument that this unconstitutionally shifted the burden of proof onto the defendant. [1]

 

Double Jeopardy

 

Many stalking cases involve Personal Protection Orders (PPOs) and thus overlap as the same factual events that gave rise to the stalking charge will involve a violation of the PPO as well. This raises double jeopardy concerns as convictions for both would result in punishment for the same conduct and the same elements. Often, the PPO violation will be adjourned (or postponed) until the conclusion of the stalking case. If the stalking case ends with a plea or conviction, the PPO violation will be dismissed.

 

Defenses to Stalking

 

The most common defenses to stalking are that the conduct involved a legitimate purpose or that the conduct was consensual. These aren’t as cut-and-dry as they seem however. One man erroneously thought that repeatedly contacting his wife after she told him not to was legitimate because he was “trying to preserve his marriage.” [2] Many defendants have also wrongly concluded that if the victim contacts them, that negates the argument that the victim reasonably felt terrorized, harassed, threatened…, etc. Not necessarily. That is a question of fact for a jury to decide and not a matter of decided law. Also, the victim can consent to certain contact but not to others as noted earlier as that situations often arises when the offender and victim have a child-in-common.

 

Michigan prosecutors and judges treat stalking very seriously. Not only can you go to jail or prison, but you risk being on probation and under the constant, watchful eye of the court, for at least five years. If you have been accused of stalking, consult with an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer immediately.

 

If you have been charged wit aggravated stalking, call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan aggravated stalking criminal defense attorney today.

 

Representing clients on stalking and aggravated stalking charges throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Barry, Clinton, Jackson, Shiawassee, Gratiot, Livingston, Washtenaw, Kent, Calhoun in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Haslett, Okemos, Eaton Rapids, Hastings, St. Johns, Bath, Ithaca, Alma, Jackson, Corunna, Durand, Brighton, Howell, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek.


[1]    People v Ballantyne, 212 Mich App 628, 629 (1995)

[2]    People v Coones, 216 Mich App 721, 725-26 (1996)