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Virginia Stalking Charges

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Stalking Charges in Virginia

Stalking in Virginia is a class 1 misdemeanor, so if you are facing a Virginia stalking charge, you have the right to be represented by an attorney.  You have the right to an attorney, even if you cannot afford one, anytime there is a possibility of jail time as a result of a criminal charge.  In Virginia, class 1 misdemeanors like stalking carry the possible maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Virginia code section 18.2-60.3 defines stalking as:

(1) conduct on more than one occasion,

(2) directed at another person,

(3) with the intent to, or that the defendant knows or reasonably should know will place the person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to that person or a family or household member.

In order to secure a conviction, the prosecutor must prove all three elements beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the statute contains a provision that makes it very easy to charge a person with stalking in the Commonwealth of Virginia:

“If the person contacts or follows or attempts to contact or follow the person at whom the conduct is directed after being given actual notice that the person does not want to be contacted or followed, such actions shall be prima facie evidence that the person intended to place that other person, or reasonably should have known that the other person was placed, in reasonable fear…”

This section of the stalking law means that, if the prosecutor can prove that the alleged victim gave notice to the defendant that the victim did not want the defendant to contact or follow them, and the defendant continued to do so anyway, that is sufficient evidence to find the defendant guilty of stalking unless the defendant can prove otherwise.

Defending against stalking charges

Practically speaking, stalking can be a difficult charge to defend against if the victim is cooperating with the prosecution and testifies that the conduct put them in fear after they told the defendant not to follow or contact them.

However, stalking charges can be beat. Sometimes a complaining witness (the alleged victim) will tell a defendant not to contact them, but will then reach out and initiate further contact with the defendant; this may introduce enough reasonable doubt to defeat a stalking charge.

Another way to fight a stalking charge is possible if the complaining witness confided to others that the defendant’s conduct did not actually frighten them. Sometimes alleged victims will initiate a criminal case for stalking with an ulterior motive, so occasionally witnesses will come forward and testify that the supposed victim made statements that they were not actually afraid of the defendant as a result of the defendant’s conduct.

If you have a charge of stalking in Virginia, contact the experienced trial attorneys at Krum Gergely & Oates for a free consultation.

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