Pennsylvania law prohibits certain behaviors that would amount to a violation under the stalking and other Sex Crimes statutes. Stalking is defined under section 2709 of the Pa criminal code. The act of stalking is often used to describe the behaviors of ex-partners which are often nesciences or inconveniences. However, the act of stalking has a very precise legal definition. In order for a certain course of conduct to constitute stalking, intent is a very important aspect for the Commonwealth to prove. The actor must intentionally follow or engage in a repeated course of conduct that would place the person in fear of serious bodily injury or causes them to experience extreme emotional distress. The statute then goes on to define other important elements that are necessary to convict the individual. Extreme emotional distress is defined as a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish. Course of conduct is essentially a pattern of repeated behaviors, however short, that show a continuity of conduct. The pattern of repeated behaviors can be lewd, threatening or use obscene words, language, drawings, caricatures or actions taken towards that individual.
These actions under Sex Crimes statutes such as Stalking can take place over the phone, internet, or in person and can be done directly or anonymously. Due to the fact that the repeated behaviors that make up the elements of stalking can take place over the internet or phone, the question of who’s jurisdiction it is to prosecute arises. Under this statute the individual accused of stalking can be charged in the jurisdiction the actions took place or the jurisdiction where they were received. If the actions take place in multiple jurisdictions, those actions can be used in the jurisdiction that is prosecuting to establish that there is actually a repeated course of conduct. Stalking is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree for the first offense. If it is a second or subsequent offense, it is upgraded to a felony of the third degree. Due to the serious nature of the crime and its penalties if convicted, it is important to seek legal representation if you have been charged with a violation of this statute. The attorneys at the Bellwoar Kelly, LLP are experienced attorneys who will fight for the best possible resolution given the facts of your case.