Monday, April 7, 2014

THE ILLINOIS LAW ON STALKING

UPDATE: The Illinois Appellate Court declared this law unconstitutional on June 24, 2016. See our related post at Illinois Stalking and Cyberstalking Laws Declared Unconstitutional.

You can’t get her out of your mind. So you’ve been following her thinking she didn’t see you. But she called the police and now you are charged with stalking.

What can happen to you? What can you do?

In Illinois, you can be charged with stalking if you knowingly: 1) Engage in conduct that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their or another’s safety or cause them emotional distress. 2) Follows or places someone under surveillance at least twice and threatens that person or their family member with harm. 3) After a conviction for stalking, follows or places that same person under surveillance or threatens them with harm even if it is just once. 4) Direct a third person to do your stalking for you.

Stalking on a first offense is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. Later offenses up the ante to a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years plus a fine.

The stalking conduct may include harming another person’s property or pet, following them, monitoring them or other nonconsensual conduct. Stalking includes electronic communication, potentially including images sent via Snapchat or other similar servers.

If you are charged with stalking, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your situation with the police or third parties. Any statements you make could be used against you at trial and could limit your potential defenses. Often, people trying to justify their conduct just dig themselves in deeper.

An experienced criminal law attorney can review your case for the best possible defense. As with other criminal charges, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The stalking law requires that you acted “knowingly” or that the conduct be “nonconsensual.” Did you know the alleged victim was going to be where you saw him or her? Did he or she tell you to stop by or email? Was your conduct really bad enough to cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress or fear for their safety?

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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