Utah Stalking + Harassment Defense Lawyer
While you may not think of bothering someone as rising to the level of a crime, if you do it in a certain way meant to scare someone or continue to do it after repeated requests to stop, it very well may. In Utah, there are separate sections of the criminal code that deal with the charges of stalking, harassment, and electronic communications harassment. Each of these crimes can come with serious penalties, including long jail sentences and hefty fines.
At Overson Law, PLLC, our Utah stalking and harassment defense lawyers have years of experience successfully working with clients charged with these crimes to bring their matter to the best possible resolution. We will be there with you every step of the way to answer any questions you may have about your case, serve as fearless advocate for you, and work to get your charges dismissed or downgraded. For a free consultation, call our office today at (801) 758-2287.
Stalking Charges under Utah Criminal Law
In the Utah criminal code, the crime of stalking is defined as intentionally or knowingly engaging in “a course of conduct directed at a specific person” where you know or should know that your actions would cause a reasonable person to either fear for their safety or the safety of someone else, or to suffer some other form of emotional distress. You can also be charged with this crime if you intentionally or knowingly violate a stalking injunction that has been issued against you.
A course of conduct means it must occur more than once, such as an ex-lover sitting outside of your house every night in an unmarked car to intimidate you. The statute specifically notes that it is not a defense to this charge that you were not given any actual notice that the conduct was unwanted or that you did not actually intend to cause the other person fear or emotional distress. Instead, the prove their case, the prosecution must show only that you knew or should have known your conduct would cause fear or other negative emotions.
Penalties for Stalking in Utah
Most of the time, stalking will be charged as a class A misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. However, there are certain circumstances under which the charge will be upped to a third -degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines, or a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in jails and fines up to $10,000.
The charge will be increased to a third degree felony if one of the following conditions is met:
- You have a previous conviction for stalking
- You have a previous conviction in another jurisdiction for a crime that is “substantially similar to stalking”
- You have a previous conviction for any felony, or felony-equivalent in another jurisdiction, involving the alleged victim or a member of their family
- You previously violated a permanent stalking injunction
- You are or were a cohabitant of the alleged victim
The charge will be increased to a second-degree felony if one of the following conditions is met:
- You used a dangerous weapon or force in the commission of the stalking
- You were previously convicted two or more times of stalking or crimes in other jurisdictions that are substantially similar to stalking
- You have a previous conviction two or more times for any felony, or felony-equivalent in another jurisdiction, involving the alleged victim or a member of their family
- You have been previously convicted of violating a permanent stalking injunction
Harassment Charges under Utah Law
The crime of harassment under the Utah code is defined as a situation where an individual “with intent to frighten or harass another…communicates a written or recorded threat to commit any violent felony” For example, if you leave a note or a voicemail stating that you are going to kill someone, this could be charged as harassment. Unlike stalking, the government must prove that you intended to frighten or harass, not just that you should have known better.
There is also another harassment crime known as “electronic communication harassment.” Under the Utah code, a personal is guilty of electronic communication harassment when, “with intent to intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass, frighten, or disrupt the electronic communications of another,” a person make repeated electronic contact, regardless of whether said contact results in a conversation. Further, the charge can also apply if the individual has been asked or informed not to text the recipient, and the person continues to contact the individual’s electronic communication device or to cause said device “to ring or to receive other notification of attempted contact.” One who posts personal identifying information to an online site or forum in order to “abuse, threaten, or disrupt the other individual’s electronic communication and without the other individual’s permission” can also be charged with electronic communications harassment.
Penalties for Harassment Charges in Utah
Plain harassment is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Typically, electronic communications harassment is also charged as a Class B misdemeanor with the same potential penalties. However, if the crime is committed against a minor, it will be charged as a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. A second or subsequent conviction when one of the prior convictions involved a minor can be charged as a third-degree felony, with penalties including up to 5 years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
If You Have Been Charged with a Crime Involving Stalking or Harassment, Call Our Experienced Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
Stalking, harassment, and electronic communications harassment are all serious charges that could lead to harsh penalties, including long jail sentences. At Overson Law, PLLC, our Utah stalking and harassment lawyers have experience successfully defending clients against these charges throughout the state. We will leave no stone unturned working to get your charges downgraded or dismissed and your case brought to a positive conclusion. Call us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.