In Massachusetts, stalking, governed by MGL c. 265 s. 43, is a criminal offense. However, connotation of this word as used in everyday language is likely insufficient for one to be prosecuted under the stalking statute. If someone is continuously bothering you, following you, and contacting you after you've told them to stop; that is not enough to be prosecuted for stalking. In order to be found guilty of stalking in Massachusetts, the prosecution must prove that one did:
- Willfully and maliciously
- engage in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time
- directed at a specific person
- which seriously annoys or alarms that person AND would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress; AND
- makes a threat
- with the intent to place that person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury.
As you can see from the above elements, EACH ONE OF WHICH MUST BE PROVEN BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT IN ORDER TO CONVICT, the crime of stalking requires much more than one might think they using the word in everyday conversation. For that reason, if you are charged with this offense, it is important that you stop contacting the alleged victim, and call our office immediately. We will determine whether you were overcharged and fight for your rights.
Stalking in Massachusetts, a felony, is punishable by the following:
- 5 years in state prison
- $1,000 fine
A second or subsequent conviction for stalking carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years in jail, up to 10 years in state prison.
If you commit the crime of stalking while in violation of a restraining order, you face a mandatory minimum state prison sentence of 1 year.
Criminal Harassment, governed by MGL c. 265 s. 43a, is a lesser-included offense of stalking. Unlike stalking, which is a felony, criminal harassment is a misdemeanor. It requires proof of the same elements as stalking, other than making a threat to place the person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury.
The potential penalties for criminal harassment include:
- 2 1/2 years in jail
- $1,000 fine
A second or subsequent conviction for criminal harassment is a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in state prison.
If you have been charged with Stalking, Criminal Harassment, or any other criminal offense, contact our office for your free initial consultation:
(617) 830- 2188