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Facing accusations of stalking

After a pleasant date, you may have wanted to express your enjoyment to the other person and perhaps arrange for a second date. Maybe you sent flowers, left a voice mail or sent a text expressing your gratitude for a lovely evening and your desire to get together again. If you got no reply, perhaps you stopped by the other person's house or job to say hello. The next thing you knew, the police were knocking on your door.

On the other hand, the circumstances could be very different involving your former spouse or long-time partner who refuses to acknowledge your attempts to reconcile or simply to be friendly. You meant no harm, but police say you crossed the line, and they arrested you for stalking. Since stalking is often related to domestic violence, you have every reason to be concerned about the potential consequences of these charges.

What does stalking look like?

In Maryland, a stalking conviction can result in up to five years in jail and fines reaching $5,000. Although it is a misdemeanor, this conviction on your record may create many complications for you, especially when you are seeking employment. You may also find a conviction for stalking damages your other personal relationships.

It is important to understand how the state defines stalking. The generally accepted explanation of stalking includes pursuing someone who does not want your attention. If you engaged in any of these activities over an extended period of time, police may charge you with stalking:

  • Showing up uninvited to the accuser's home or place of employment
  • Calling the person to the point where he or she feels harassed
  • Sending unsolicited texts or emails that may be threatening, offensive or upsetting
  • Leaving messages at the accuser's home, work or on his or her vehicle
  • Leaving gifts the other person does not want
  • Watching or following the other person

Doing any of these things once or twice may not constitute stalking, but if the person has asked you to stop or must make changes to his or her normal routine because of your attention, the law may agree that your actions are those of a stalker. Additionally, although the rejection may be frustrating to you, any act of violence, such as vandalizing the person's house or car, is a criminal offense.

If you are facing accusations of stalking, you will not deal with this is family court. You will likely face criminal charges before any civil action. A skilled criminal attorney can work to protect your rights and to build a strong defense strategy.

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