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The Crime of Stalking in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, violent crimeGenerally, stalking in its simplest form is defined as the unwanted pursuit of another. Many states have laws in place that prevent unwanted contact with strangers when that contact is threatening or dangerous. Sometimes, the extra attention given to a current or former significant other can turn into an invasion of privacy. Stalking usually involves a pattern of conduct where the offender causes the victim to fear for their safety.

According to Wisconsin law, an individual commits the crime of stalking when the individual acts in a certain way directed at a specific person that “would cause a reasonable person under the same circumstances to suffer serious emotional distress or to fear bodily injury to or the death of himself” or others close to him.

The course of conduct element requires two or more acts to be committed over a period of time. However, there is no specific time frame for the commission of those acts. Technically, you could be charged with stalking for two acts committed weeks, months or even years apart.

A charge of stalking in Wisconsin is considered a Class I felony, which carries a punishment of up to 3.5 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. But depending on the circumstances, you could face up to 12.5 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

A conviction for stalking, like most other convictions, can have serious personal, social and financial consequences. If you or a friend is under investigation or has been charged with the crime of stalking, you should contact a stalking defense attorney who will work tirelessly to represent you and protect your clean record.

Nine Courses of Conduct that Lead to a Stalking Charges

The law identifies nine courses of conduct that could lead to stalking charges. Regardless of the length of time, any of the following courses of conduct can lead to charges if they show a continuity of purpose:

  1. Maintaining a constant physical or visual presence;
  2. Confronting the victim;
  3. Attempting to contact the victim’s employers, coworkers, and even showing up at the victim’s place of employment;
  4. Appearing at the victim’s residence or contact the victim’s neighbors;
  5. Entering the victim’s property;
  6. Contacting the victim by telephone or other electronic means;
  7. Sending written messages to the victim;
  8. Placing an object on the victim’s property; or
  9. Delivering an object to the member of the victim’s family.

Defenses to the Nine Types of Stalking

As with any criminal case, the prosecution has to prove each and every element of the alleged crime. The prosecution must establish and prove that you engaged in an intentional pattern (course of conduct) directed at the victim and that the victim actually felt fear from the unwanted behavior. If the prosecution fails to prove all of these elements, you cannot be charged with stalking.

Furthermore, if you were engaged in activity protected by the United States Constitution, such as journalists following government officials, you could have a valid defense. Likewise, if the victim cannot prove you made any verbal or physical action to instill or create fear, then you cannot be charged with stalking.

As you can see, stalking charges can cover a variety of actions and have devastating effects on your future. If you are facing stalking charges, you should contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney to assist you in fighting these serious charges.

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