Atlanta Stalking Attorney
Stalking charges in Atlanta are most commonly the result of a domestic violence situation where a person who is arrested violates a no-contact order and ends up with charges for harassing and intimidating the individual that was protected by the order. When this is alleged to have taken place, even if no physical contact occurred, it is important to consult with an Atlanta stalking lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that the situation does not get any worse and that enough time is present to build a strong defense for the charges.
By contacting an experienced Atlanta criminal lawyer as soon as possible, those accused allow time for a thorough investigation to be conducted, and for all the different defense strategies to be investigated. To learn more or discuss what steps you can take, call and schedule a consultation today.
Behavior That Can Lead to Stalking Charges
Repetitive contact of a harassing and intimidating nature often leads to a basic stalking charge. Additionally, if someone feels that they have been harassed and intimidated because they feel that they are under surveillance or repeatedly contacted, the individual may contact the police to obtain an arrest warrant for stalking in Atlanta. This is a baseline case for misdemeanor stalking and therefore warrants attention from a stalking lawyer in Atlanta.
Some of the key elements of stalking in Atlanta are as follows:
- Violation of a condition of pretrial release, probation, or parole
- Violation of an order of protection
Aggravated stalking is usually the violation of a no contact provision from a previous bond or pre-trial order, or parole condition. This can be as simple as picking up the phone and calling the person you were not supposed to have contact with or as violent as a physical confrontation between you and the person that you were prohibited from having contact with because of the judge’s order.
Some of the toughest situations are when the person you are not supposed to have contact with comes to your home and initiates contact. Often a boyfriend and girlfriend or husband and wife get back together after an incident of domestic violence; without being aware of the escalating situation, things get heated between the two, and suddenly, it escalates. When the police get involved, the officer interviews both husband and wife. They check each person’s criminal history. If there is an order of protection banning contact, the officer will see it on their computer screen, and suddenly some innocuous interaction with someone you love becomes a serious felony criminal charge of aggravated stalking.
The two types of stalking (misdemeanor and felony) result in different levels of penalties you face. A first time offender with one particular victim where the allegation is harassment and intimidation without the complication of a no contact order is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. It is uncommon for someone to face extensive jail time after a first time conviction of stalking against one particular victim.
Aggravated stalking is usually defined as repeated stalking or violations of pre-trial, parole or probation conditions that prohibit contact or violent contact with someone. Aggravated stalking is a felony in Atlanta and therefore carries a minimum of one year and up to 10 years in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Harassment can be defined as:
- Phone calls
- Following someone around
- Showing up on someone’s doorstep
Harassment is viewed from the perspective of the alleged victim and as a result, the defining point of the case becomes whether or not their reasonable apprehension of harassment is valid.
Harassment can be defined as a pattern of behavior that has no legitimate purpose, such as contacting someone that does not want to be contacted. If they feel harassed and intimidated they may go to the authorities and seek a warrant for your arrest for stalking, which is when an Atlanta stalking attorney should be contacted.
Can a Person Be Charged With Stalking Over a Misunderstanding?
The standard to charge someone with stalking is very low. It does not take a lot of evidence to have probable cause to arrest someone for stalking. Sometimes all it takes is someone relaying some kind of conduct to the authorities where they felt harassed and intimidated. It is not uncommon for cases to take place where a malicious alleged victim will lie to the cops about contact in violation of a protective order even though there was not contact and the alleged victim cannot support the act with any evidence beyond their statement.
Crimes Related to Stalking
Most often domestic violence, battery, aggravated assault or aggravated battery tie into stalking. When granting bond to someone who has been charged with those crimes, a Judge may make it a condition of your bond to cease all contact with a victim or, alternatively and more simply, no violent contact with the alleged victim. The judges order of no contact or no violent contact is a rule. If you break the rule, you will be in trouble, and new charges may be brought against you.
If you and the alleged victim want to have contact, you should call a stalking attorney in Atlanta to discuss what can be done to modify the judge’s order.
Order of Protection
In Georgia, an order of protection is also a temporary protective order or protective order.
An order of protection is usually the result of a civil hearing between two individuals where one individual feels harassed, intimidated, or threatened by another individual. During such hearings, the petitioner (a/k/a plaintiff or alleged victim) testifies about the respondent’s (a/k/a defendant or alleged aggressor) behavior, and what the respondent did that made the petitioner feel threatened, harassed, or intimidated. The Judge may hear evidence from the respondent or the respondent’s attorney. As a respondent or petitioner, you are allowed to call witnesses or subpoena witnesses during the hearing.
These hearing are usually conducted similar to a bench trial in which the judge decides the facts and applies the law. The judge may
- Dismiss the petition.
- Issue an order of protection.
- Dismiss the petition and subject the petitioner to a protective order to stay away from the respondent.
- Subject both parties to a protective order
The protective order itself can be pages and pages of statements and can have very specific provisions about what is protected, what conduct is prohibited and what conduct is permitted as part of the order.
If an order of protection is entered by the Judge following a hearing, the respondent must follow the terms of the order for the duration of the order. The maximum time a judge may enforce a single protective order is 12 months. However, a petitioner may seek protective orders ad nauseam every year.
Benefit of Experienced Legal Representation
Stalking is a crime that is not taken lightly in Atlanta, Georgia and can result in either a misdemeanor or felony charge.
As a result, it is crucial to have an experienced Atlanta stalking lawyer by your side when facing this type of charge. Bond is often denied because of the perceived threat to the alleged victim, which means you could face significant jail time prior to ever going to trial.
For this reason, it is crucial to have an attorney who knows how to put forth the facts and circumstances and tell your story to a Judge who decides whether or not you get bond. This will allow you to minimize the jail time initially when you are charged.