Few things are more frightening than feeling as though someone is following you or intentionally trying to scare you. We commonly use the term “stalking” to describe this type of behavior; however, the law historically had a difficult time deciding what behavior to make illegal and how to define actions we attribute to “stalking.” Whether you believe you are a victim of stalking, or someone has accused you of stalking, a Nebraska criminal defense attorney helps you understand the state’s stalking laws.
How Does the Law Define Stalking?
Nebraska Revised Statute Section 28-311.03 governs the criminal offense of stalking, defining the offense as follows:
Any person who willfully harasses another person or a family or household member of such person with the intent to injure, terrify, threaten, or intimidate commits the offense of stalking.
To understand the definition of stalking, however, you must know how some of the terms within the definition are defined. For example:
- Harass — to engage in a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously terrifies, threatens, or intimidates the person and which serves no legitimate purpose.
- Course of conduct — a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose, including a series of acts of following, detaining, restraining the personal liberty of, or stalking the person or telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the person.
- Family or household member — a spouse or former spouse of the victim, children of the victim, a person presently residing with the victim or who has resided with the victim in the past, a person who had a child in common with the victim, other persons related to the victim by consanguinity or affinity, or any person presently involved in a dating relationship with the victim or who has been involved in a dating relationship with the victim. For purposes of this subdivision, dating relationship means frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional or sexual involvement but does not include a casual relationship or an ordinary association between persons in a business or social context.
Penalties If Convicted of Stalking
Without additional aggravating circumstances, stalking is charged as a Class I misdemeanor. If convicted, you are facing up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. The very nature of stalking often means the perpetrator has a fixation on the victim and/or a disregard for authority though. With that in mind, stalking can be charged as a Class IIIA felony, which carries a maximum of three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000, if any of the following apply
- The person has a prior conviction under such section or a substantially conforming criminal violation within the last seven years. A “substantially conforming criminal violation” is defined as a guilty plea, a nolo contendere plea, or a conviction for a violation of any federal law or law of another state or any county, city, or village ordinance of this state or another state substantially similar to section 28-311.03. Substantially conforming is a question of law to be determined by the court.
- The victim is under sixteen years of age
- The person possessed a deadly weapon at any time during the violation
- The person was also in violation of section 28-311.09, 28-311.11, 42-924, or 42-925, or in violation of a valid foreign harassment protection order recognized pursuant to section 28-311.10 or a valid foreign sexual assault protection order recognized pursuant to section 28-311.12 at any time during the violation
- The person has been convicted of any felony in this state or has been convicted of a crime in another jurisdiction which, if committed in this state, would constitute a felony and the victim or a family or household member of the victim was also the victim of such previous felony.
Contact a Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you have been arrested for stalking in Nebraska, consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.