Stalking charges are serious in Utah, and a conviction can change one’s life entirely. In some instances, you might not even be aware that your actions will be considered criminal behavior. For instance, you may be innocently sending text messages after dissolving a relationship, but if the recipient contacts the authorities, these could be used against you. If you have been accused of stalking, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to build a strong defense on your behalf. Wasatch Defense Lawyers has more than 100 years of experience in representing Utah residents.
Stalking Laws in Utah
Code 76-5-106.5 of Utah’s laws defines stalking as a person’s conduct or behavior towards another person despite knowing it will cause emotional distress of fear in the victim. Conduct that is considered stalking includes:
- Repeatedly following or approaching a person
- Illegally monitoring a person
- Sending text messages or e-mails to the victim
- Appearing at the victim’s workplace or place of residence
- Soliciting information from third parties about the victim
To sustain a stalking charge, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s pattern of conduct towards the victim would result in reasonable fear or distress. In Utah, a stalking injunction remains valid for three years from the date the respondent is served. However, a permanent injunction may be served in case of a criminal case.
Consequences You Face if Found Guilty of Stalking in Utah
Utah’s criminal offenses fall under two categories: serious offenses which are referred to as felonies and lesser offenses known as misdemeanors. While the latter have lighter penalties, both could result in months of incarceration alongside hefty penalties. Also, both result in a criminal record that could affect your ability to get a job in the future or a professional certificate.
Stalking can fall under a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the specific details of each case. For instance, if this is your first offense or if you are found to have gone against a stalking injunction, it is considered a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are further divided into Class A, B, and C charges. Stalking is a Class A misdemeanor whose penalties could see you spending up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
On the other hand, it stalking is an offense if:
- You have previous felony convictions
- You have previous stalking convictions
- You violate a permanent stalking court order
- You lived with the victim at the time of committing the offense
- You are found to have used a weapon at the time of committing the crime
Stalking is a third-degree felony whose penalties include a fine amounting to $5,000 and/or up-to five years in prison.
Charged with Stalking in Utah? Get a Free Case Evaluation
No matter how baseless the stalking accusations are, how much the evidence points to your innocence or how pristine your reputation was before the charges, you are in grave danger of losing your freedom or incurring hefty fines if you’re found guilty. Having the right law firm behind you when you are facing a serious charge like stalking is extremely important. Contact our law firm for a free consultation by calling or filling up our online form.