Stalking is defined by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 265 section 43. It is a felony in Massachusetts. The statute of limitations for stalking is 6 years.
What is Stalking in Massachusetts?
Five elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict someone for stalking.
- That over a period of time the defendant knowingly engaged in a pattern of conduct or series of acts directed at the victim;
- A reasonable person would suffer substantial emotional distress because of the Defendant’s acts.
- The victim was seriously alarmed or annoyed by the defendant’s actions:
- That the defendant acts were willful and malicious.
- The Defendant threatened the victim with the intention of placing the victim in imminent fear of bodily injury or death.
In order to prove a pattern or series of conduct the prosecutor must prove that the defendant made at least three acts. Courts have ruled that two phone calls did not create a pattern of conduct.
Malice is defined differently in stalking cases. Unlike in a harassment order, the Defendant’s acts in stalking are malicious or willful if they are done on intentional and without justification or mitigation and any reasonable person would have foreseen the consequences. That means the acts were done on purpose and not by mistake. It is not enough to show that the acts were done negligently.
A defendant may be convicted of stalking if they communicate a threat in any way. The stalking statute does not limit or exclude any way a person may communicate a threat. Threats may made in person, or via phone, email. fax, electronic messaging to name a few.
Defenses to Stalking
There are many legal defenses to stalking cases. A criminal lawyer There are legal defenses to stalking charges in Massachusetts. This statute requires proof that the acts were done intentionally and aimed at a particular person. A skilled attorney may argue that the acts were not aimed the victim, or they were not intention.
Another defense is the acts would not cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress let alone substantial emotional distress.
Massachusetts Criminal Attorney
Patrick Donovan is an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney. He is a former prosecutor, who uses his prosecutor training and experience to get the best result for each of his clients. Attorney Donovan has tried many criminal cases and has favorably resolved many others. Attorney Donovan’s office is located in Quincy. He has appeared in over fifty criminal courts in Massachusetts.