Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
Stalking in Alexandria is when somebody is repeatedly and intentionally causing another person to fear one of the following: death, sexual assault, or injury to oneself or a family member. If somebody causes that fear or if somebody knows that his or her actions are likely to cause that fear, this would be considered stalking by an Alexandria court.
If somebody is charged with stalking, it is really important to have an Alexandria stalking lawyer who is there to help the individual and explain what the process is. A criminal attorney in Alexandria will be able to advocate for their client and present facts to defend the case, and they will be able to find out information about the victim in the case to show that the victim did not actually experience a fear of injury, sexual assault, or death. A stalking attorney will find out all the facts about that and be able to go ahead and preserve witnesses and evidence to help use in the case later on.
The elements of stalking have been determined mostly through case law, but there needs to be repeated and intentional action on the part of one individual causing another individual to fear death, injury, or sexual assault. The elements that the prosecutor will have to prove are the acts or the words that are repeatedly and intentionally causing another person to fear injury, death, or sexual assault.
There are many behaviors that can lead to stalking charges. For example, an Alexandria police officer who observed that somebody was acting in a way where his or her actions caused fear of death, sexual assault, or injury, that officer would probably arrest that person for stalking. A victim can also bring a stalking charge if he or she takes the allegation to the magistrate and the magistrate finds that there is probable cause to sustain the charge.
A charge of stalking in Alexandria can be brought any time if there is probable cause that a person’s actions caused fear of death, sexual assault, or injury. Even if there was just a misunderstanding, as long as the alleged victim felt in reasonable fear, charges can be brought. However as an Alexandria stalking attorney can explain, just because somebody was taken into custody on suspicion of stalking or because somebody was arrested or otherwise brought into court for stalking, it does not mean that there is enough evidence for a stalking conviction. That is true even where the evidence is sworn under oath by a witness or a credible victim, the damage might not support a conviction or the actions might not be actions that constitute stalking, even if somebody is arrested for it.
Other criminal offenses that require the attention of a stalking lawyer in Alexandria could be violating a protective order. Sometimes a protective order is also in place for a potential stalking scenario and somebody’s actions could constitute stalking, but also be a violation of the protective order because an individual can make somebody fear for his or her life, but also do it in a way that would violate an existing protective order [PDF]. Domestic assault and battery charges could be linked to stalking. There are many other different types of criminal offenses that could also be brought up along with a stalking charge, it simply just depends on the circumstances.
If somebody is convicted of stalking in Alexandria, the penalties will differ depending on the gravity of the charge and the facts but also the criminal history of the person. For example, a first offense of stalking would be charged with a misdemeanor. It would result in up to twelve months in jail or a $2,500 fine. If it is a second offense involving the same person or within five years, then it will actually be charged with a felony and the punishment would be much more severe.
There could be up to twelve months in jail and $2,500 in fines or it could be between one and five years actually in prison—that would be for the Class 6 felony. If it is the third conviction, then it would also be charged as a felony, and it would be between one and five years in prison.
If it is a second offense within five years or if it is involving the same person, it jumps from a misdemeanor to a felony, so that makes it much more severe. Additionally, an individual can find oneself with a protective order that has entered in the case and then that would have an effect on an individual’s ability to carry a weapon in Virginia and would carry with it the possibility of further time incarcerated if the protective order is broken.
A protective order in Virginia is an order from a judge that is meant to protect the victim by keeping the person named in the order away from the victim through a variety of ways. It could be a no-contact order, it could be a no-abusive contact order, it could involve just the victim, or it could involve the victim, the victim’s children, or the victim’s household members.
A protective order can also give the victim certain things—possession of the home, possession of the vehicles, and use of certain shared items, especially if it is a marital home where the items are in multiple names. All of these can be given exclusively to a victim under a protective order. Protective orders can also be stay away documents where somebody has to stay a certain distance away from the victim in the protective order, regardless of where the victim is.