The Texas stalking statute requires more than one incident of stalking to show a scheme or course of conduct. The statute does not, however, require that the alleged victim be harmed by the defendant. Furthermore, the statute provides that the “course of conduct” does not have to be directed at only the complainant. Instead, it can include conduct that the alleged victim would consider as threatening bodily injury or death to a family member.
A defendant’s conduct falls within the plain meaning of the term “follow,” for purposes of the statute, when the defendant does one or more of the following:
- repeatedly appears at the alleged victim’s home when he or she does not reside there;
- causes himself or herself to be where he or she knows the alleged victim will be; or
- engages in conduct that he or she knows will cause the alleged victim to be placed in fear.
As explained in Allen v. State, 218 S.W.3d 905, 907 (Tex. App. 2007), the crime of stalking includes both an objective component and elements from the points of view of the accused and the complainant.
Attorneys for Stalking in San Antonio, TX
The attorneys at Goldstein & Orr in San Antonio, TX, represent clients for stalking and other offenses related to harassment and disordering conduct throughout Bexar County. Call (210) 226-1463 today to discuss your case and possible defenses that might apply.
We work hard to protect our clients from the serious criminal offense of stalking and harassment. Call us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss the charges today.
Texas Penal Code Section 42.072 for Stalking
Under Texas Penal Code Section 42.072, stalking occurs when the defendant commits an offense if the person, on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engages in conduct that:
(1) constitutes an offense under Section 42.07, or that the actor knows or reasonably should know the other person will regard as threatening:
(A) bodily injury or death for the other person;
(B) bodily injury or death for a member of the other person’s family or household or for an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship; or
(C) that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property;
(2) causes the other person, a member of the other person’s family or household, or an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship to be placed in fear of bodily injury or death or in fear that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property, or to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended; and
(3) would cause a reasonable person to:
(A) fear bodily injury or death for himself or herself;
(B) fear bodily injury or death for a member of the person’s family or household or for an individual with whom the person has a dating relationship;
(C) fear that an offense will be committed against the person’s property; or
(D) feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended.
Penalties and Punishments for Stalking in Texas
The offense of stalking can be charged as a felony of the third degree. The criminal offense is enhanced to a felony of the second degree if the defendant has previously been convicted of an offense under this section or of an offense under any of the following laws that contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of an offense under this section:
- the laws of another state;
- the laws of a federally recognized Indian tribe;
- the laws of a territory of the United States; or
- federal law.
Under Texas Penal Code Ann. § 42.072(c), for purposes of stalking, the judge or jury may find that different types of conduct described by Subsection (a), if engaged in on more than one occasion, constitute conduct that is engaged in pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct.
Definitions under the Texas Stalking Statute
The term “dating relationship,” “family,” “household,” and “member of a household” have the meanings assigned by Chapter 71, Family Code. The term “property” is defined to include a “pet, companion animal, or assistance animal, as defined by Section 121.002, Human Resources Code.”
Although the crime of stalking and harassment might partially overlap in subject matter, each crime addresses a different type of conduct. For instance, charges for stalking can be distinguished from charged for harassment because stalking requires conduct that is knowing committed on: (1) more than one occasion; (2) pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct; and (3) directed specifically at one person.
On the other hand, the elements of harassment require only one offense and without any requirement that the conduct be directed at one specific person. Additionally, the mens rea for harassment is intentional conduct which is a higher standard than conduct that is knowingly committed under the stalking statute.
Protective Order for Stalking in San Antonio, TX
As provided in Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 6.09, in any proceeding related to stalking, when the defendant appears before the court, upon request, the court has the authority to enter a protective order for the protection of the alleged victim.
As provided in Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 57A.01 to 57A.04, the Office of the Attorney General in Texas is required to develop and distribute to all law enforcement agencies a “pseudonym form” to record the name, address, telephone number, and pseudonym of a victim of stalking.
Information on Stalking – Visit the website for the Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, to find information on Stalking. Find out answers to frequently asked questions such as “What is Stalking?” and “How do I Know if I’m Being Stalked?” Also find information on terroristic threats, a Class B misdemeanor under Texas law. The website explains different types of stalking offenses under Florida law and provides advice on what to do if you are being stalked.
Stalking Resource Center – The mission of the Stalking Resource Center is to enhance the ability of professionals, organizations, and systems to effectively respond to stalking. The Stalking Resource Center is a program of the National Center for Victims of Crimes. Find an article analyzing stalking laws in Texas and recent legislative updates. Find information on Civil Stalking laws in Texas.
Trafficking, Sexual Assault or Stalking Protective Orders – Visit the website for the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Inc., at womenslaw.org to learn more about the definition of stalking and how to protect yourself from a stalker. Read more about the different types of protective orders and how long they last. Find links to more ;information from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.
Finding an Attorney for Stalking
If you were charged with Stalking or Harassment in San Antonio, TX, or the surrounding areas of Bexar County, then contact an experienced San Antonio criminal defense attorney at Goldstein & Orr. We represent clients on a variety of serious misdemeanor and felony offenses.
Stalking allegations often involve innocent behavior. In some cases, the conduct occurs on only one occasion, is not conducted pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct, is not directed specifically at another person, or is not committed knowingly with any intention to stalk another person.
Call Goldstein & Orr today for a confidential and free consultation to discuss your case and possible defenses.