When you think of a “stalker“, what comes to mind? Someone who hides in the bushes outside your home at night, watching you move from lighted room to lighted room through the windows? Or maybe it’s someone who hovers around the periphery of your life, showing up at the same restaurants and grocery stores and coffee shops, watching you when they think you aren’t paying attention. Or maybe you’re thinking about Facebook stalking or some other cyberstalking.
Or perhaps you envision someone who breaks into your home, touching your personal belongings and sniffing your undergarments. It’s a scary thought, whatever your interpretation of being stalked is. However, for some people the thought of having a stalker means being vulnerable to sexual assault. But is stalking really a sexually motivated crime? And does it actually count as a sex crime in Michigan?
Stalking is a form of criminal harassment, but it’s not specifically sexual.
The Michigan law defines stalking as “a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual…that causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.” You’ll notice that the word “sex” or “sexual” doesn’t actually appear anywhere in that description.
Under our Michigan criminal law, stalking can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. But it isn’t specifically a sex crime unless of course the person being stalked is also sexually assaulted by their stalker. However, in that case, the stalking and the sex crime are considered to be two different crimes and could result in two separate criminal charges.
Both stalking and sexual assault are very serious crimes in Michigan!
Misdemeanor stalking, which results from any unconsented contact with the alleged victim like approaching them in a public place, showing up at their house, or delivering objects to them, would be a misdemeanor. Of course, that contact is subject to the legal definition above since not every unconsented contact can be described as ‘being stalked’. The misdemeanor version of this crime would be punishable by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. However, if the victim is a minor, a felony might be charged and that penalty could be increased to up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine!
Stalking can also become a felony when you have a prior history of stalking, you’re stalking someone in violation of your probation or parole, or the stalking involves a feasible threat against the victim. It could also count as felony stalking if the person has a restraining order against you and you violate the terms of that order. Felony stalking is punishable by fines of up to $15,000 and up to five years in a Michigan prison. If the victim is a minor, the punishment is doubled!
Sex crimes need to be carefully handled by an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Sex crimes are serious. In fact, all crimes are serious. Whether you’ve been accused of stalking someone or sexually assaulting someone, or both, you’re going to need help from a dedicated team of criminal defense trial lawyers with lots of experience fighting allegations of sexual assault. If that sounds like you, call The Kronzek Firm right now at 866 766 5245.
Our team of experienced and aggressive sex crime defense attorneys is on standby to fight for your rights, and defend your future. Our top sex crime defense lawyers fight for clients throughout the lower peninsula of Michigan, and we have a stellar reputation to back up those claims. Lawyer up and reach out to our aggressive criminal defense lawyers.