Stalking offenses in Texas involve alleged offenders causing physical bodily injury, damage to property, or threatening to cause bodily injury to another person or property. The person who is the subject of the stalking must be placed in fear of bodily injury to themselves or another, or damage or destruction of their property. Stalking and Harassment are very similar offenses in Texas but carry very different consequences. Stalking in Texas is a felony and Harassment in Texas is a misdemeanor, but the crimes are similar in nature.
Stalking is a serious felony offense in Texas that can result in very lengthy prison sentences and large fines. Harassment, while not as severe as stalking in Texas, still carries collateral consequences that can affect not only those charged but those near to the alleged offender. Prosecutors will often try to stretch a potential harassment charge and fit it into an allegation of stalking merely to increase the range of punishment for an alleged offender. An experienced criminal defense lawyer is necessary to ensure your rights are protected.
Criminal Defense Attorney for Stalking Arrests in Fort Worth, TX
Were you arrested for an alleged stalking or harassment charge anywhere in the DFW area? You should not make any kind of statement to authorities without legal counsel. Contact Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC right away for help protecting your legal rights.
Andrea Townsend, Steven Gebhardt, and Brian Eppes are experienced criminal defense lawyers in Fort Worth who represent clients accused of violent crimes in Cleburne, Arlington, Weatherford, Fort Worth, and many other nearby communities in Tarrant County, Parker County, and Johnson County. Call today 817-502-3600 to have our attorneys review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.
Overview of Stalking and Harassment in Tarrant County
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Texas Stalking Charges
An alleged offender commits the crime of stalking under Texas Penal Code § 42.072 if he or she commits an offense on more than one occasion pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engages in conduct that:
(1) constitutes an offense under Section 42.07 (this is the Harassment statute that deals with repeated or threatening phone calls or communication), or that the actor knows or reasonably should know the other person will regard as threatening:
(A) bodily injury or death for the other person;
(B) bodily injury or death for a member of the other person’s family or household or for an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship; or
(C) that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property;
(2) causes the other person, a member of the other person's family or household, or an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship to be placed in fear of bodily injury or death or in fear that an offense will be committed against the other person's property, or to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended; and
(3) would cause a reasonable person to:
(A) fear bodily injury or death for himself or herself;
(B) fear bodily injury or death for a member of the person's family or household or for an individual with whom the person has a dating relationship;
(C) fear that an offense will be committed against the person's property; or
(D) feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended.
Generally, stalking is classified as a third-degree felony. Under Texas Penal Code § 42.072, stalking becomes a second-degree felony if the actor has previously been convicted of an offense under this section or of an offense under any of the following laws that contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of an offense under this section in Texas or another State of the United States.
Stalking Penalties in Tarrant County
Convictions for stalking have significant consequences. If an offender is convicted of stalking they could be subjected to a minimum of two years up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If a person is convicted of a stalking and have been previously convicted under this section he or she may be sentenced to a minimum of two years up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. In addition to incarceration and fines, people convicted of felony offenses in Texas can also experience a number of other collateral consequences of a felony conviction that can include possible loss of firearm rights as well as the revocation, suspension, or denial of professional licenses. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist in reducing the penalties involved.
Texas Harassment Charges
An alleged offender commits Harassment under Texas Penal Code § 42.07 if, with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another, the person:
(1) initiates communication and in the course of the communication makes a comment, request, suggestion, or proposal that is obscene;
(2) threatens, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the threat, to inflict bodily injury on the person or to commit a felony against the person, a member of the person's family or household, or the person's property;
(3) conveys, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the report, a false report, which is known by the conveyor to be false, that another person has suffered death or serious bodily injury;
(4) causes the telephone of another to ring repeatedly or makes repeated telephone communications anonymously or in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another;
(5) makes a telephone call and intentionally fails to hang up or disengage the connection;
(6) knowingly permits a telephone under the person's control to be used by another to commit an offense under this section; or
(7) sends repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.
Harassment Penalties in Tarrant County
While not as severe as their big brother, convictions for harassment carry the potential for a jail sentence. If an offender is convicted of harassment they could be subjected to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000 for a first offense. If a person has previously been convicted of harassment they could be subjected to one year in jail and a fine up to $4,000.
Resources for Stalking Offenses
Safe Haven - Safe Haven is the largest agency in Tarrant County that provides services to alleged domestic violence victims. In the vast majority of stalking and harassment claims, the alleged offender and victim have some form of a relationship. The stalking of a complete stranger is quite rare. Tarrant County along with other surrounding counties take these cases very seriously. When an alleged victim wishes to “drop” charges or make their intentions known to the District Attorney’s office they will often be referred to take the Alternatives class through Safe Haven. Safe Haven offers this program at no cost to an alleged victim of domestic violence.
Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC | Fort Worth Stalking Defense Lawyer
If you were arrested in the DFW area for an alleged stalking or harassment charge, it is in your best interest to not say anything to authorities until you have legal representation. Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC defends individuals in communities throughout Tarrant County, Parker County, and Johnson County, including Fort Worth, Weatherford, Cleburne, Arlington, and many other surrounding areas.
Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys Andrea Townsend, Steven Gebhardt, and Brian Eppes can fight to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case, including having your criminal charged minimized or eliminated. They can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call 817-502-3600 or complete an online form to set up a free, confidential consultation.