Stalking in Texas is an allegation that a person acted more than once and in same course of conduct in a manner that put the victim in fear of damage to their property, bodily injury, or death. This is generally a third degree offense, unlike the similar charge of harassment which is generally a misdemeanor. Stalking is codified under Penal Code 42.072.
Stalking charges generally require a course of action that goes beyond phone calls and texts, although those could rise to the level of stalking depending on the content of the communication. The prosecutor, court, and potentially a jury, will look at what the accused’s thoughts were. The mental state requirement for stalking is knowingly.
If you have been charged with stalking you need to make sure the attorney you are considering hiring is up to speed on recent challenges to the stalking statute. The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth handed down Ex Parte Charles Barton which draws the statute into question. The State is appealing but at the moment stalking cases are in flux depending on what the alleged conduct was.
Sam Houston State University did a study on stalking in Texas and found that over 18% of 700 randomly selected Texas residents said they were victims of stalking. Other interesting facts they published included:
The nature-oriented definition of knowingly is as follows: A person acts knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to the nature of his conduct or to circumstances surrounding his conduct when he is aware of the nature of his conduct or that the circumstances exist.
Stalking is generally a third degree felony, punishable by 2-10 years in prison. Stalking can be enhanced to a second degree felony with a 20-year cap if the person has been previously convicted of stalking.
Due to these potentially severe punishments, anyone facing charges should reach out to a Fort Worth stalking lawyer for legal assistance.