Did your attempt at romance fit the definition of stalking?

On Behalf of | Sep 11, 2019 | Firm News |

There are many conflicting and confusing perspectives on dating and romance. Actions that receive popular acclaim as romantic in books or movies may be met with derision or even criminal prosecution in real life.

Sometimes, when one person has very strong feelings for someone else, they are willing to take extraordinary action to win the affection of the other person. While persistence and dedication can pay off in certain circumstances, it is not always the best approach in dating scenarios.

What you view as determined or romantic could seem threatening or even like stalking to someone else. Learning more about how Texas defines stalking can help you avoid making social mistakes that leave you open to prosecution.

Stalking involves a perceived threat on the part of the other person

When one person stalks another, it usually involves tracking or following someone in a manner that seems threatening or intimidating. Stalking can occur in real life, such as if you follow someone from their class to their place of employment. Stalking can also occur online if you intentionally infiltrate any digital space where the object of your affection interacts with others.

The most crucial factor here is that the other party feels that there is an implied threat to your behavior. Simply knowing where someone does yoga or visiting them at their place of employment isn’t stalking. However, telling someone that you will come back every day until they go on a date with you could be a threat, depending on how they interpret that statement.

Even if it isn’t stalking, it could be harassment

If you know that you aren’t inspiring fear in the other person, you might assume then that there is no danger to pursuing them in whatever manner you see fit. However, even if the situation does not meet the criteria for stalking specifically, it may still qualify as harassment under Texas law.

Harassment involves repeated and intentional communication with someone else when they have made it clear they do not want to interact with you. Harassment can take place in person, but it can also take place over the phone or via electronic communications such as text messages, email or social media.

Both stalking and harassment violate the Texas Penal Code

Individuals accused of a first stalking offense could face third-degree felony charges in Texas. The potential penalties include between two and 10 years in jail and a fine of as much as $10,000. Harassment, on the other hand, is a Class B misdemeanor. The maximum penalties are a fine of as much as $2,000 and up to 180 days of incarceration.

For both stalking and harassment, those with a previous criminal history of a similar offense will potentially face more serious charges as well as increased penalties.