Many people do not fully understand what stalking entails when it comes to criminal law. They may assume that an overly friendly co-worker is stalking them, or that it can be considered stalking when someone comments too much on their social media accounts. It is important for you and other Missouri residents to understand that real stalking can come with serious criminal penalties.
According to FindLaw, stalking most often occurs among people who are romantically involved, especially after the relationship has ended. However, stalking can also be present when one person develops a crush on another or when someone becomes enamored with a celebrity or other public figure. You should understand that stalking does not involve merely an isolated incident. Rather, this is behavior that is repetitious, deliberate and usually intended to make the target feel intimidated or frightened. Stalking can involve someone following another person home from work, calling or texting the other person repeatedly or taking photographs of the other person without his or her permission.
Typically, stalking is considered a misdemeanor in Missouri. However, it becomes a felony charge when the person accused of stalking was previously convicted of a similar crime within the past five years. As you may know, both misdemeanor and felony charges can include serious penalties, including fines and jail time. You should also know that you are entitled to a competent defense for any charge. This information is meant to educate you, but it should not replace the advice of a lawyer.