Stalking in North Carolina

by | Mar 27, 2020 | Blog Posts, NC Criminal Defense | 0 comments

Stalking involves engaging in a course of conduct or harassment, knowing that the conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for the safety of himself or another or suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking is generally a Class A1 misdemeanor that can become felonious in certain limited situations. Stalking is governed by N.C.G.S. 14-277.3A. Note that Cyberstalking, which is a Class 2 misdemeanor, is a separate offense that is discussed here.

Like all of our blogs, this blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense lawyer.

What is stalking?

A person guilty of misdemeanor stalking

  1. willfully and
  2. without legal purpose,
  3. does one of the following:
    1. harasses (see below) another person on more than one occasion or
    2. engages in a course of conduct (see below) directed at a specific person
  4. when the person knows or should know that the harassment or course of conduct would cause a reasonable person (in the victim’s circumstances) to
    1. fear for the safety of
      1. him or herself,
      2. his or her immediate family, or
      3. his or her close personal associates or
        1.  suffer substantial emotional distress (see below) by placing that person in fear of
          1. death,
          2. bodily injury, or
          3. continued harassment.

Definitions

  • Harassment
    • Knowing conduct directed at a specific person that torments, terrorizes, or terrifies that person and that serves no legitimate purpose
    • Can occur through written or printed communication or transmission, telephone, voicemail, e-mail or other electronic transmission
  • Course of Conduct
    • One or more acts, including, but not limited to, those where the stalker (directly, indirectly, or through third parties) is in any way in the presence of, or follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person, or interferes with a person’s property.
  • Substantial emotional distress
    • Significant mental suffering or distress that may or may not require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

Punishment

Misdemeanor stalking is punished as a Class A1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum possible penalty of 150 days imprisonment. A defendant who is sentenced to community punishment must be placed on supervised probation.

Repeat Stalking

If a person is convicted of stalking and that person has a prior stalking conviction, the crime becomes a Class F felony, which carries a maximum possible penalty of 59 months imprisonment. Any prior stalking conviction will satisfy this element, no matter how old the conviction.

Stalking when a court order is in place

If there is a court order in place prohibiting the defendant from engaging in the stalking conduct, this crime is elevated to a Class H felony, which carries 39 months imprisonment. Examples of such court orders include a No Contact Order or a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO). Note that a DVPO violation is a separate offense.

If you have been charged with stalking or another crime in North Carolina or South Carolina and are in need of a criminal defense attorney, contact us to discuss your options.

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