What is Aggravated Stalking in Michigan?
In the state of Michigan, stalking and aggravated stalking are unique charges. They also have very different consequences and penalties.
If convicted of simple stalking in Michigan, you will face misdemeanor charges that carry jail time of up to a year and fines under $1,000. On the other hand, an aggravated stalking conviction carries much more serious penalties. This crime is charged as a felony and comes with a jail sentence that can be up to five years. This conviction can also carry fines, with the maximum amount being $10,000.
What is Aggravated Stalking in Michigan?
Cases of simple stalking become aggravated stalking when the following circumstances are present:
- Makes a credible threat against the alleged victim, the victim’s family, or someone in the victim’s same household
- Violates a restraining order after having received actual notice
- Is a repeat offender and was previously convicted of stalking charges in Michigan
- Violates a condition of their bond, probation, etc.
- Violates a preliminary injunction
Important Information to Know About Stalking in Michigan
Before diving into the details of stalking charges in Michigan, it is important to know some of the terms and what they mean. The specific Michigan stalking laws will uniquely apply to your case based on the circumstances.
When it comes to stalking charges, there are a few things to know.
Course of conduct is a term used to describe actions involving multiple, separate noncontinuous acts with evidence of a continuity of purpose.
In stalking cases, emotional distress describes cases of substantial mental suffering. It may also be used to refer to distress that does not always require medical treatment or counseling.
Harassment charges may be filed if you attempt to contact or engage with someone who has made it clear they are not interested in you or your advances. The continued efforts to engage with this person would also lead to emotional distress. There are exceptions to this rule, including activities protected by the constitution and actions with some legitimate purpose.
Stalking refers to willful efforts to engage or contact someone without their consent. In cases of stalking, though, the alleged victim typically feels intimidated, harassed, terrorized, molested, or frightened.
Uncontested contact refers to encounters with someone that is continued or initiated without the other person’s consent and totally disregard the individual’s expressed statements that the contact is discontinued or avoided. Some examples of unconsented contact include the following:
- Entering or remaining on property that is owned, leased, or occupied by the alleged victim
- Appearing within sight of the person or following them
- Contacting the person using electronic communications
- Going to the individual’s workplace or residence
- Confronting or approaching the person publicly or on private property
- Putting an item on someone’s property or delivering something to a property that is owned, occupied, or leased by the alleged victim
When stalking is involved, the word “victim” describes someone who becomes the focus of any willful conduct that involves repeated or continuing harassment.
What is Considered Stalking in Michigan?
The term stalking can be confusing. If this is the case for you, consider the following:
In Michigan, stalking refers to any actions that involve the ongoing harassment of someone that would make a reasonable person feel terrorized, intimidated, threatened, frightened, harassed, or molested.
Stalking often means significant mental suffering for the alleged victim, especially when the perpetrator inflicts physical injury on the individual. This can have long-term consequences on their life, another reason stalking is taken so seriously in Michigan.
This is any conduct that is directed at an alleged victim, including ongoing harassment. Additionally, the actions would result in any other individual experiencing emotional distress due to the ongoing contact (harassment). This same conduct is applied to cases of stalking, but typically more severe.
Unconsented and What it Means in Stalking Cases
Stalking charges are highly dependent on consent. Cases of unconsented contact are those that the one party engages in that the other does not want. Examples include the following:
- Sending posted mail or email
- Being within visual contact
- Entering the person’s workplace or property
If something causes a victim to feel terrorized, frightened, harassed, intimidated, threatened, or molested, it is considered stalking or aggravated stalking. These types of actions mean significant mental suffering for many victims.
If you are charged with simple or aggravated stalking, even if you had no intention to inflict physical injury, it can result in serious charges and even more serious penalties if convicted. In fact, it is a felony punishable by years in jail and significant fines.
If you are charged with misdemeanor stalking or aggravated stalking (which is a felony), it is recommended that you contact a Michigan criminal defense lawyer and begin forming the attorney-client relationship immediately. The aid of an attorney will help you overcome these charges.
Potential Penalties for Stalking in Michigan
Upon being convicted of simple stalking charges, you will face misdemeanor penalties. As mentioned above, this results in up to a year in prison and $1,000 in fines.
For situations where you are found guilty of the stalking offense described above (aggravated stalking), and the victim was under the age of 18, you will face felony charges. If convicted, you can be sentenced to up to five years in jail and fines of $10,000.
The court also has the option and power to issue a restraining order, anger management classes, counseling, or other remedies upon conviction in these cases.
It is important to challenge the prosecution by hiring an attorney to help protect your rights. Learn how to hire a criminal defense lawyer here.
Michigan Laws Related to Aggravated Stalking
If you are charged with aggravated stalking, it is a serious felony. There are a few factors that make it unique from simple stalking charges (those are listed above).
Remember, aggravated stalking (like other aggravated charges in the state) come with aggravating circumstances. This is why the penalties will be much more severe.
What Happens if You are Found Guilty of Stalking or Aggravated Stalking?
If you engage in stalking and are convicted of the crime, the penalties vary based on the situation. A criminal defense lawyer can help you better understand your rights and options in these cases.
In both felony and misdemeanor stalking cases, the court may order you to undergo psychiatric, psychological, or social counseling.
It is worth mentioning that aggravated stalking is a serious crime in Michigan. The actions constituting the offense will be considered when your sentence is determined. You need to speak to an attorney if you cause someone to suffer emotional distress because of your actions. They will be able to help you develop a defense for the charges you are facing.
Can You Face Stalking Charges if it is Just Your Word Against Someone Else’s?
Have you ever heard of a criminal offense arising from someone else’s accusations? Do you know what would happen if someone feared for his or her safety and reported you as a “stalker?” Could the prosecution charge you with simple or aggravated stalking in this situation?
You may wonder if you could be charged with stalking if it is just your word against your accusers.
According to Michigan law, you can be charged with stalking based on one person’s statements. It is also possible for you to be convicted if the judge or jury believes the testimony that is given. In this situation, no other evidence or witnesses are needed to file criminal charges against you and go to trial.
Defending Against Stalking Charges
If you are charged with stalking, you will likely be ordered to have no contact with the victim during the trial. If you do have contact with the victim, you may face additional charges. In some situations, you will be eligible for pretrial release; however, this will not be possible in other cases.
It could be possible for a criminal defense attorney to build a viable defense for your case. However, you need to contact an attorney immediately so they can get to work on your case.
If your case is unsuccessful, you may also be able to appeal the decision. However, you may be held in prison during this process. In this case, a bail bond pending appeal will be issued.
Do Not Wait to Hire an Attorney for Help with Your Michigan Stalking Case
Have you been accused of stalking in Michigan? Are you unsure what to do or what legal rights you have? If so, a good first step is to contact our legal team.
We will review the facts related to your case and help determine the best possible defense strategy. However, you must contact an attorney soon after you are arrested for the best possible representation.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker and her legal army at Blank Law, PC has decades of experience handling these cases. We offer clients a Michigan criminal defense attorney free consultation to discuss their cases. The best way to get started is by calling (248) 515-6583. You can also use our online form.
We understand how scary and confusing any type of criminal charge can be. You will find that we can provide you with the legal representation you need to help you get the best possible outcome for your case.