Maryland is one of a collective of states in which a stalking case can be tried as a criminal offense as opposed to a civil one. Individuals should note that if they are convicted of a criminal offense, they may be sentenced to jail while a civil offense might only include a financial punishment.
The subjectivity of the definition of stalking makes knowing what constitutes stalking confusing. In Maryland, laws focus on what is known as a course of conduct. Section 3-801 of Maryland law defines the term course of conduct as a persistent series of behaviors over time that holds a purpose.
While the following section, 3-802, defines stalking as the malicious course of conduct intended to or knowingly threaten an individual, the difficulty is the subjectivity of stalking. What one may consider threatening, another may not. Knowing where the line is drawn is like aiming at a moving target.
Given the complexity and subjectivity of stalking under the law, it is advantageous to connect with an experienced Maryland stalking lawyer. A knowledgeable criminal attorney could help you learn more about your legal situation and gain better insight into your legal rights and options.
In Maryland, stalking is charged as a misdemeanor. While that may not sound serious, a conviction could result in up to five years in jail and a hefty fine of up to $5,000. The length of jail time and the cost of the fine is dependent on what the conviction is and the severity of the charge. While the ideal result for a stalking defendant is a dropped case, there are other lesser outcomes that a skilled Maryland attorney may be able to mitigate. This could include lesser or no jail time or a smaller fine.
Harassment, while a different statute in Maryland state law, is often charged along with stalking. Though it is often confused with stalking, harassment is classified as the following of an individual in a public setting or the persistent behavior that annoys or makes an individual fearful. The difference between harassment and stalking is that harassment holds the intent to annoy or alarm whereas stalking holds the intent to cause serious harm or make an individual fearful of serious harm. Defendants should note that it is possible for an individual to be charged with both harassment and stalking.
It is not the case that an individual may just simply claim that you were stalking them. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove without reasonable doubt that an individual was stalking another. This may be difficult considering the personal nature of stalking, however, it is still advisable to seek legal counsel and representation in these cases to help better defend yourself against the charge. A stalking attorney in Maryland could go over the laws surrounding stalking and advise you on a defense strategy.
Another plausible defense is that the accused had no intention to annoy or harm the other individual and that there is no proof of such behavior. There are more exceptions to both a harassment and a stalking charge that a skilled attorney may be able to advise after reviewing a person’s case.
While a stalking charge may not seem like a serious offense, it is important to get in contact with a Maryland stalking lawyer sooner rather than later to begin building a strong defense case for you.
The consequences of such a charge may have long-term consequences that could be mitigated with appropriate legal representation. Having a reliable stalking attorney at your side may drastically help your results in court.
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