The Texas Penal Code defines stalking as the act of deliberately and repeatedly following or harassing another person, causing that person to feel fearful for their safety. It’s a serious crime - much more than one would expect - and it comes with serious consequences. Our attorneys are experienced in stalking cases, and we can help.
How is stalking defined?
Stalking is a crime that can occur in a variety of ways, including:
- Following someone around or showing up at their home or workplace uninvited.
- Repeatedly calling, emailing, texting, mailing letters or gifts to someone.
- Sending unwanted messages through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
It can also include other threatening or intrusive behaviors such as:
- Using any kind of technology (such as a computer) to harass another person by posting harmful information about them online;
- Sending pornographic images of yourself to someone without their consent.
What are the stalking laws in Texas?
Texas Penal Code, Section 42.071, states that stalking is the act of deliberately and repeatedly following or harassing another person, causing that person to feel fearful for their safety.
Stalking Laws in Texas
In Texas, stalking is a crime under the Texas Penal Code, Section 42.072. The law defines two different types of stalking: (1) criminal trespass by threat; and (2) criminal harassment.
Criminal Trespass by Threat
Under this section, an individual commits an offense if he/she enters onto property without permission or legal right when the owner has posted signs stating no trespassing at all times or after being directed off the property by someone with authority over it to leave.
Violating a protective order can also be considered stalking.
You may also be charged with stalking if you intentionally and repeatedly violate a protective court order or other restriction, such as a restraining order intended to protect the safety of another person.
A protective order is a court order intended to protect the safety of another person. It can be issued by a judge after a hearing in which evidence is presented on your behalf and/or against you, or it can be issued in response to an application from either party (the victim) or a prosecutor (for example, if there’s no witness who wants to testify). Protective orders may include various requirements such as:
- Stay away from certain locations or persons
- Move out of shared housing
- Stay away from someone at work, school, or other places
There are serious consequences of stalking in Texas.
Stalking is a felony offense in Texas, which means you can end up with prison time and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted. In addition, you could also be charged with stalking if you intentionally and repeatedly violate a protective court order or other restriction such as a restraining order intended to protect the safety of another person.
In addition to the penalties listed above, a judge may decide to add more time to your sentence under certain circumstances. If you have been convicted of stalking before, the judge can add another 1-10 years to your current sentence. A history of violent crime and/or using a weapon while committing any crime (including stalking) will also lead to an increased penalty.
There are also serious consequences for violating a protective order.
In Texas, stalking is a felony offense. It's also considered a crime of domestic violence, which means that if you're convicted of stalking your former partner or family member, you could be prohibited from possessing or owning firearms. Punishments for violating a protective order and committing first-degree stalking can result in up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
We will work hard to build the best possible defense case while protecting your rights during every step of the judicial process.
Here's what to do if you've been accused of stalking.
As we've discussed, the consequences of stalking in Texas can be very serious, so it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help your case. If you are accused of stalking, contact us immediately. Do not talk to the police without first speaking to us about your options and your rights under the law.