In Michigan, the laws pertaining to stalking and harassment are incredibly harsh in an effort to protect the alleged victim. You could be charged with misdemeanor or felony stalking depending on the facts of your case. In either scenario, you could be sentenced to time behind bars and be required to pay expensive court fines upon conviction. That is why it’s vital you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you’ve been accused of stalking in the state of Michigan.
Under Michigan law, stalking is defined as any conduct that would put another person in reasonable fear for their safety. Since the statute is so vague, that means this “conduct” could be interpreted differently depending on the situation. You may have thought your “conduct” was appropriate and harmless, so you never intended to harm or frighten the alleged victim. Nevertheless, that doesn’t matter in the eyes of the law. You will still be charged with stalking if your conduct fit the elements of the crime.
Oakland County Stalking Defense Lawyer | Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Cases involving stalking and harassment tend to be extremely charged and contentious. You will need an experienced defense team on your side with practice handling these types of cases if you want to successfully avoid the statutory penalties. J. Dallo of Dallo Law, P.C. can be that attorney for you. He can utilize his vast experience with prior stalking/harassment as well as domestic violence cases to build a persuasive defense on your behalf.
To learn more about J. Dallo and your legal options, contact his office at (248) 283-7000. Dallo Law, P.C. is located in Bloomfield Hills but accepts clients throughout Macomb County and Oakland County including Birmingham, Warren, Roseville, Sterling Heights, Utica, Fraser, Rochester Hills, Pontiac, Troy, Oakland Charter Township, Auburn Hills, Novi, and West Bloomfield Township.
- What Constitutes Stalking in Michigan?
- Examples of Stalking
- Penalty for Stalking in Michigan
- Aggravated Stalking in Michigan
- Personal Protection Orders (PPO)
- Additional Resources
What Constitutes Stalking in Michigan?
Stalking is defined under the Michigan Penal Code Section 70.411h. The statute specifies that stalking is any willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that causes the person to feel frightened, terrorized, threatened, harassed, molested, or intimidated. In order to fully understand this definition, we need to review a few other legal terms related to stalking.
The phrase “course of conduct” is defined as conduct composed of a series of two or more separate noncontinuous acts evidencing a continuity of purpose. The term “harassment” is any conduct directed towards the alleged victim that includes but is not limited to repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a person to suffer emotional distress and eventually does cause the victim said distress.
“Unconsented contact” is defined under Michigan law as any contact with another individual that is initiated or continued without the person’s consent. It can also include instances where a person expresses desire for the contact to be avoided or stopped, but the person initiating the touch refuses to do so. Unconsented contact can include the following:
- Approaching or confronting the victim in a public or private area
- Following or appearing within the sight of the victim
- Entering onto or remaining on property owned, occupied, or leased by the victim
- Calling the victim on the telephone
- Sending electronic communication or mail to the victim
- Placing an object on, delivering an object to, property owned, occupied or leased by the victim
- Appearing at the victim’s workplace or residence
So, in the simplest words, stalking is defined as:
- A willful course of conduct initiated by the defendant
- Involving continued or repeated harassment of the alleged victim
- The conduct would cause any reasonable person to feel frightened, terrorized, threatened, intimidated, harassed, or molested
- And the conduct eventually causes the target to feel frightened, terrorized, threatened, intimidated, harassed, or molested
Examples of Stalking
Stalking and harassment are on the rise in the United States. Reports indicate 7.5 million people are stalked annually in the U.S. In fact, it’s estimated 15% of women and 6% of all men in the United States have been a victim of stalking at one point in their lives. The phenomena have increased due to the internet and the prevalence and availability of others personal identifying information online.
Some examples of stalking under the Michigan law include:
- Sending unwanted letters, gifts, cards, or messages
- Monitoring phone or computer usage
- Driving by or hanging near the alleged victim’s place of work
- Threatening to harm the alleged victim, their friends, or family
- Use of public records or private investigators to find identifying information
- Posting rumors or false information about the alleged victim on the internet or another public place
- Damaging the alleged victim’s property, car, or home
- Entering the victim’s property without permission
- Sending persistent unwanted communication over the internet
- Using GPS or other software to track the alleged victim without consent
Penalty for Stalking in Michigan
In most instances, stalking is classified as a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of no more than $10,000. However, if the victim is a minor the penalties may be enhanced. You’ll be facing a felony if the alleged victim is under the age of 18 and you’re 5 or more years older than them at the time of the offense. If you’re charged with felony stalking, you’ll be facing the following penalties:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- A fine of up to $01,000
You may also be placed on probation for no more than 5 years upon conviction. If probation is granted, then the court may prohibit you from doing any of the following:
- Stalk any person during the probation term
- Avoid any contact with the alleged victim of the stalking offense
- Comply with an evaluation to determine a need for psychiatric, psychological or social counseling, and if, determined by the court, you should receive counseling at your own expense
Aggravated Stalking in Michigan
Stalking is a felony offense in certain situations. When a stalking offense is classified as a felony it’s known as aggravated stalking. You could be charged with aggravated stalking in several ways. One is that the victim is under 18 and you’re 5 or more years older like we described above. The crime can also include the following scenarios:
- Willfully and knowingly ignoring a court order related to the stalking
- Threatening to inflict physical harm or kill a victim’s family member
- You were previously convicted of stalking
A felony stalking offense can result in up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Michigan Stalking PPO (Personal Protection Order)
In addition to the penalties described above, you may have a personal protection order (PPO) issued against you during or after your criminal proceedings. A PPO is a type of court order that prohibits the respondent from committing certain actions that could distress the alleged stalking victim. They typically will restrict the respondent from contacting, following, calling, and otherwise approaching the alleged stalking victim for a period of time.
Michigan courts will issue a non-domestic personal protection order if:
- The alleged “stalker” is not connected to the victim through a domestic relationship
- The plaintiff can show two or more incidents of stalking behavior such as persistent unwanted phone calls or showing up at the alleged victim’s work unannounced
If you’ve had a PPO issued against you, then it’s imperative you follow the conditions listed and hire an attorney. Violation a PPO is an incredibly serious matter and could result in a felony aggravated stalking charge. Any violation of the order could cause you to face up to 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
What is Stalking? | SPARC – Visit the official website for SPARC–the Stalking Prevention, Awareness & Resource Center—to learn more about what stalking is. Access the site to learn what types of behaviors are considered to be stalking, statistics regarding stalking, and resources for victims.
Michigan Stalking Laws – Visit the official website for Michigan Legislature to learn more about the offense of stalking and harassment. Access the site to learn the definition of the two, penalties for committing the crime, penalty enhancements, and more.
Stalking Lawyer Bloomfield Hills, MI | Oakland County
If you or someone you know has been arrested for stalking, contact Dallo Law, P.C.. With years of experience under his belt, J. Dallo can assist you by building a formidable defense tailor made to fight your charges. Don’t wait another moment to secure your rights and future and contact J. Dallo of Dallo Law, P.C. today.
Dallo Law, P.C. can be contacted at (248) 283-7000. We are located in Bloomfield Hills, but accept clients throughout the greater Macomb County and Oakland County area.