What is sexual stalking?
Stalking is defined as approaching or following an individual on a repeated basis with the intention of putting that person in fear of assault or bodily injury. A sexual stalker may attempt to engage or threaten unwanted sexual contact or sexual activity with their target. Victims may be concerned that the aggressor plans to rape, molest or otherwise sexually assault them.
People who stalk others may know their victims, or they could have just picked people randomly. Stalking could be an attempt to humiliate or discredit someone. They can make people feel uncomfortable, and possibly threatened or fearful that they or someone else that they know will be harmed.
Is stalking a crime?
It is currently illegal for anyone to stalk another person or group for any reason. This includes stalking a person for sexual purposes. However, people who have claimed that they have been stalked must be able to prove that the accused person’s actions were deliberate. They should also verify that the behavior was repeated. Isolated or one-time incidents can be very difficult to claim as stalking attempts in a court of law.
Sexual stalking is commonly associated with sexual harassment. Sexual harassment refers to any verbal or non-verbal activity of a sexual nature that is meant to offend or harass a person or group. Unwanted sexual advances, asking for certain sexual favors, showing sexually explicit material and making obscene gestures are a few examples of behaviors that could be considered sexual harassment. A person may or may not necessarily be both sexually harassed and sexually stalked by one or more people at the same time.
What are the penalties for sexual stalking?
Stalking is currently a misdemeanor in the state of Maryland. Offenders who have been found guilty of stalking may be required to pay a fine of no more than $5,000 and/or serve up to five years in prison. A judge may sentence a person solely for the stalking crime or in tandem with other crimes that they have been found guilty of committing. If the person is sentenced for additional crimes at the same time, the initial penalties may increase substantially, depending on the other charges and their sentencing guidelines.
What can I do if I’ve been sexually stalked?
The first thing that you should do is to contact your local police department. Officers who respond may ask you for a statement. Be sure to answer their inquiries completely and to the best of your knowledge.
You may want to gather evidence and talk to other people who witnessed the acts in question. They may come in handy if you choose to press charges and the case is brought to trial. You will be known as the plaintiff and the person that you brought charges against will be referred to as the defendant during court proceedings. Each side will have an opportunity to present facts, witnesses, evidence and testimony before the presiding judge will make a decision.
Remember that what happened was not your fault. You shouldn’t blame yourself for the misdeeds of others. It can take victims several weeks, months or even years to recover from the effects of sexual stalking. Such incidents can also affect their personal relationships with romantic partners, family members, friends and neighbors. It can even cause them to lose focus at their place of employment or decide to stop pursuing the hobbies that they once enjoyed.
What actions can I take if I’ve been accused of sexually stalking someone?
If you’ve been accused of sexually stalking another person, you have the right to refute those claims if you choose. You can represent yourself or hire legal counsel if the case goes to court. It will be up to the plaintiff’s side to provide enough evidence to confirm that the alleged acts happened on more than one occasion, were deliberate and designed to intimidate, threaten, harass or bother that person.
It could be possible that your accuser has no real proof that such a crime took place. They may be trying to get back at you for ending a romantic relationship or because they felt wronged by you in some way. That person may be punished for making false claims and be ordered to serve time in jail and/or pay a fine as a result.
Certain orders can be taken out against offenders in sexual stalking situations. A peace order may be sought if the person who tried to stalk you was a friend, coworker, neighbor, acquaintance or a complete stranger. If the aggressor was a former romantic partner or a relative, you can seek a protective order against that person.
There are interim, temporary and final peace and protective orders that may be issued. Interim orders are designed to provide protection when the particular court is not in session. A temporary protective or peace order can be requested when the respective local court is in session. Temporary orders may be extended to final peace or protective orders if necessary.
People who have been sexually stalked or accused of sexually stalking someone else probably have a lot of questions and we have answers. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation. Our trained professionals will listen to what you have to say and provide important advice for possible next steps. We can even represent you in court if you wish.
We understand that this type of crime can be damaging. It can seriously ruin the reputation of both victims and offenders. They may be viewed in a negative light by their peers and other individuals that they regularly associate with.
It will take some time to rebuild confidence, credibility and trust. Change doesn’t happen overnight. You may not see results for a while, but that’s okay. Taking positive steps to change behavior and improve your reputation will reap rewards in the end.
Our main goal is to help you get back on your feet again. We know that it won’t be easy. Court proceedings can be very intimidating, especially if you’ve never been in a court before. We’ll guide you through the process and make every effort to make things as painless as possible.
It probably won’t be very long before the proceedings are over. A few years from now, the tribulations you experienced will probably be nothing more than a distant memory. In fact, you’ll more than likely be back to loving life again before you realize it.