Going for a late-night walk with someone you love is romantic… assuming both of you know that’s what’s happening, of course. While 90s romantic comedies turn the lonely heart pining from a distance into something poetic, in reality the sorts of things you see in these movies would get you arrested. Especially in Minnesota, which takes stalking quite seriously.
What is stalking? Well, the simple definition is that it is the repeated following and harassing of another person. On the one hand, that seems pretty simple. In reality, though, there can be a huge gulf between what one person sees as normal behavior, and what another person sees as stalking. Particularly since stalking is determined based on how the actions make the victim feel.
Take a simple situation. A woman runs a flower stall, and every day when she’s closing up shop, the same man is there waiting on her. He asks her if she wants to go out with him, and she says no. After the first few times, she makes it clear that she isn’t interested in this man, and she would like his attentions to stop. Common sense says he should respect her wishes, and move on. However, if he chooses to send her presents, turn up in places she happens to be, or follows her, then he is stalking her, and committing a crime by both federal law, as well as Minnesota state law.
What Are The Penalties For Stalking?
If someone is convicted of stalking, the penalties depend on the seriousness of the offense, as well. For example, misdemeanor stalking crimes can come with up to 1 year spent in jail, and fines up to $3,000. Felony stalking can come with a 5 year prison sentence, as well as fines up to $10,000.
So what’s the difference between misdemeanor stalking, and felony stalking? Aside from the fact that felony stalking is obviously worse? Well, misdemeanor stalking involves showing up on the person’s property without cause or invitation, monitoring them physically or through technological means, direct or indirect actions that make the victim afraid for his or her safety, and repeated attempts to communicate (text messages, email, letters, phone calls, etc.) after it’s been made clear those attempts are unwanted.
All of that sounds pretty bad, so what turns those actions into a felony? Well, if you’re stalking someone specifically because of their race, color, sex, national origin, religion, or other, similar factors, then that can make the crime a felony. If you are committing any of these actions while falsely impersonating someone else, if the victim is under 18 and you’re more than 3 years older than they are, if you are carrying a deadly weapon at the time the acts are committed, you commit any of the above actions with the intention of influencing a jury or member of the court, or you have a domestic violence conviction within the past ten years.
When In Doubt, Back Off
Stalking is a crime that’s full of gray areas, and it can sometimes be hard for someone to realize they’re committing a crime. If it’s even in doubt, though, listen to what someone is telling you, and pick up on their signs. No means no. Just remember that, and be respectful of people’s boundaries when they set them.
If you are involved in a stalking investigation in Minnesota, then you need to have someone on your side who will fight for your rights. That’s why you should contact us today to ensure that, whatever happens, you have someone looking out for your best interests.