Stalking is a serious offense that can have severe legal and socially stigmatizing consequences. If you have been charged with stalking in Wisconsin, it’s important to understand the law and your defense options.
What Constitutes Stalking According to Wisconsin Law?
Stalking charges may be brought against you if it is believed that you engaged in a “course of conduct” that results in someone else experiencing serious emotional distress or fear for their own, or a family member’s, safety. In Wisconsin, a “course of conduct” usually requires that two or more distressing acts are carried out over a period of time. If it is believed that you had knowledge that at least one of those acts would result in distress or fear, stalking charges may result.
It is important to note, however, that two acts are not always required in stalking cases. If it is believed that your actions caused someone else to fear bodily harm or death or suffer serious emotional distress, stalking charges could be brought.
Any of the following acts could be considered part of a “course of conduct” that warrants a stalking charge in Wisconsin:
- Maintaining visual or physical proximity to another individual
- Approaching or confronting the individual, including appearing at their home, place of work, or other places they are known to regularly be at
- Delivering letters, objects, or other materials to the individual
- Recording the individual, including photographing, videotaping, audio recording, or using other electronic monitoring
- Sending another person to engage in any of the above acts on your behalf
A Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Avoid Devastating Penalties
Under Wisconsin law, stalking is usually considered to be a Class I felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to 3.5 years and/or fines up to $10,000. In some circumstances, however, the charges may be elevated to a Class F or Class H felony, which carry even more severe penalties.
Your charges may be increased to Class F felony charges if it is believed that you used a dangerous weapon during the course of conduct or if you were convicted of another violent crime within the last 7 years. If that violent crime conviction involved the alleged victim, if they were under 18 at the time of the violation, or if you accessed electronic records of someone’s personally identifiable information through the course of conduct, you may be subject to a Class H felony charge.
Stalking cases are complicated, but they often rely on dismissable “he said, she said” eyewitness evidence. A conviction is far from inevitable. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can mount a sophisticated defense to combat the devastating penalties that stalking charges can bring.