The Differences between Stalking and Harassment
Stalking and harassment are both crimes in Nevada that cause fear to another person, but they are two very different offenses.
Stalking occurs when someone engages in a series of acts over a period of time that causes a reasonable person to feel intimidated, frightened, terrorized, harassed, or fearful for their safety, or the safety of family or household members. While the classic stalking situation involves someone physically intercepting or following another, the law also prohibits what is called cyberstalking ― stalking by electronic means, such as sending threatening e-mails or posting menacing messages on social media. While a first-offense stalking charge is usually a misdemeanor with a county jail penalty, a stalker who uses the Internet or a wireless device to text-message, e-mail or otherwise cause the recipient to feel fearful commits a felony and faces potential prison incarceration for up to five years.
A person commits aggravated stalking when their stalking behavior is accompanied by threats made against the recipient that is intended to cause reasonable fear of death or substantial bodily harm. Nevada punishes aggravated stalking with two to 15 years in state prison.
Like stalking, harassment is a crime that places another person in fear of being injured or harmed, or having one’s family injured or harmed. Harassment also includes threats to property. To prove harassment, the prosecution must establish that:
- The threat was made knowingly
- The threat was conveyed by word or conduct that caused the recipient to reasonably fear that the threat would actually be carried out
Stalking is therefore a series of acts committed over a period of time but harassment can be charged on the basis of one threat, even one threatened in the future.
Defenses to stalking and harassment charges
Unfortunately, many times these kinds of charges arise in the superheated emotions of a divorce or breakup. Many times what the victim portrays to law enforcement is either entirely untrue or omits pertinent facts such as:
- The victim called you and asked you to meet in person or to return a call or e-mail, so your behavior was a response to an invitation and not stalking
- There was an argument but no threat was made, so harassment wasn’t committed
- The victim lied out of jealousy, anger or spite and nothing unlawful happened ̶ the accusation is baseless
If you find yourself facing baseless charges of harassment or stalking, do not talk to the alleged victim or the law enforcement officers in a misguided attempt to clear up the misunderstanding. Get immediate legal counsel from Nevada’s experienced and tenacious criminal defense attorney to safeguard your rights.