As we explain below, a person may be prosecuted for stalking even when there is no other proof beyond the statements of the alleged victim.
Michigan’s stalking law has been upheld by the appellate courts even though criminal defense attorneys have consistently fought this law on the grounds that the statute is vague and overbroad.
Additional criminal charges for using a computer to commit a crime may be charged when a course of conduct that constitutes stalking involves the use of a computer or electronic communications.Non-Aggravated and Aggravated Stalking, Statute Links & Penalties
In Michigan, the crime of stalking can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the circumstances. Stalking is classified as aggravated or non-aggravated, described in more detail and with links to the statutes below:
Non-Aggravated Stalking pursuant to MCL 750.411h: means a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested. “Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of 2 or more separate non-continuous acts evidencing a continuity of purpose. Some of the conduct which may constitute a “course of conduct” includes:
- Following or appearing within sight of a person.
- Approaching or confronting a person.
- Appearing at the individual’s workplace or residence.
- Placing or delivering an object or gift to a place occupied, leased or owned by a person.
- Sending mail or electronic communications.
Non-aggravated stalking maximum penalties:
- 1 year imprisonment and/or $1,000.00 fine.
- If the victim was less than 18 years of age at any time during the course of conduct and the accused is 5 or more years older than the alleged victim, imprisonment for not more than 5 years and/or $10,000.00 fine.
- Probation up to 5 years.
Aggravated stalking pursuant to MCL 750.411i: means that an individual engaged in stalking in addition to one of the following:
- At least 1 of the actions constituting the offense is in violation of a restraining order or injunction and the individual.
- At least 1 of the actions constituting the offense is in violation of a condition of probation, parole, pretrial release, or a condition of bond pending appeal.
- The course of conduct includes the making of 1 or more credible threats against the victim, a member of the victim’s family, or another individual living in the same household as the victim.
- Second Offense: The individual has been previously convicted of a violation of this section or section 411h.
Aggravated stalking maximum penalties:
- 5 years imprisonment and/or $10,000.00 fine.
- If the victim was less than 18 years of age at any time during the course of conduct and the accused is 5 or more years older than the alleged victim, imprisonment for not more than 10 years and/or $15,000.00 fine.
- Minimum probation for 5 years.
I have been asked this question a million times: How can I be charged with stalking if it is just a question of my word against someone else? Not only can you be charged based upon the statement(s) of a single person, but you can also be convicted if the subsequent testimony is believed! The prosecutor can go forward with criminal charges when only ONE person alleges that a crime was committed. No other witnesses, or other evidence is required to advance criminal charges and proceed to a trial against an individual. The police and prosecutor are not required to research whether the alleged victim is telling the truth or lying even when the initial allegations and potential future testimony is inaccurate and illogical.Structuring an Aggressive Defense to Stalking Charges
A stalking conviction can carry harsh penalties beyond jail and extensive probation for up to 5 or more years. Some of the other potential penalties include any or all of the following:
- Electronic monitoring, GPS (satellite) tracking.
- Psychiatric or psychological counseling.
- Issuance of a personal protection order.
- Testing for drugs and alcohol.
- Travel restrictions.
- Restrictive use of computers and the internet.
- Upon conviction of a misdemeanor, possible restrictions of firearm possession.
- Upon conviction of a felony, mandatory loss of all rights to own or possess a firearm pursuant to State of Michigan and Federal laws.
There may be grounds to defend a stalking charge when the contacts are not intentional, are instigated by the other party or constitute misunderstandings. In other cases, the focus may be on the alleged victim who has vindictively filed false stalking allegations. That’s right, even people that are labeled as ‘victims’ lie! Some other considerations in preparing a defense include:
- Whether a private investigator can assist the defense?
- Whether an independent polygraph can assist the defense?
- Whether a plea bargain to a lower offense or misdemeanor is possible?
- Whether the alleged victim will agree to a plea bargain?
In addition to exploring all possible defense strategies, ABDO LAW may recommend psychiatric and/or psychological attention for mental health issues whenever appropriate to facilitate a defense or request for leniency.Let Us Help Protect Your Personal Rights!
Retaining a criminal defense lawyer should be your first priority if you are accused of any misdemeanor or felony. Fortunately, legal entanglements are often manageable. Being charged with a felony does not necessarily mean that you will go to jail or be convicted of a felony. In our experience, most first time offenders, including those with a limited past record, may be entitled to a plea bargain to a misdemeanor with probation, not jail. In addition, adult offenders be eligible for a disposition pursuant to a delayed sentence pursuant to MCL 771.1. At the end of a delayed sentence period (1 year) the court may grant sentence leniency or a dismissal. However, a delayed sentence is not automatic and may require the approval of the victim, judge and prosecutor. Youthful offenders (age 18 but before age 26) may be entitled to HYTA status to get a dismissal and the record sealed. Juvenile cases may be resolved with dismissals pursuant to diversion or consent calendar.
ABDO LAW, established in Macomb County in 1980, provides unrivaled legal services to those that seek highly rated criminal defense lawyers. We believe that every client has a unique situation and deserves to be treated with respect and dedication to achieve the best possible result in the Michigan court system. In our 35 years of practicing criminal law, we have amassed 1,000’s of legal victories in every type of criminal matter.
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