In 1996, Congress enacted an anti-stalking law, which makes it a felony offense to cross state lines in order to stalk or harass another person. Being convicted of this type of federal crime can have serious repercussions, so if you are being investigated for interstate stalking, please contact an experienced federal crime attorney who can help you begin formulating a defense.
When Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), it also enacted an anti-stalking law, which prohibits people from crossing state lines with the intent to harass or stalk an individual if the conduct:
- Places the victim in reasonable fear or death or serious bodily injury to him or herself, or to the victim’s immediate family members, or spouse or partner; or
- Causes or could be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress to the victim, or to his or her immediate family or spouse.
A person can also be convicted of this offense if he or uses the mail, an interactive computer service, an electronic communication system, or any facility of interstate commerce to:
- Cause another person to reasonably fear death or serious bodily injury to him or herself, or to a relative or spouse; or
- Cause someone else to suffer emotional distress.
This means that a person can be charged with federal cyberstalking, which is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he or she transmits a message in interstate commerce that contains a threat. In fact, using a phone to annoy or harass someone can lead to two years in prison.It is also a felony offense to stalk someone on military property or U.S. territorial lands.
Penalties for Interstate Stalking
The penalties that a defendant charged with federal stalking faces depends on the specific circumstances of each case. For instance, if the alleged conduct led to the death of the victim, the defendant could be imprisoned for life, while causing permanent disfigurement or a life threatening injury could result in a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison. If, on the other hand, the defendant used a dangerous weapon or inflicted serious bodily injury to another, he or she could face ten years imprisonment. Otherwise, a defendant will be fined and sentenced to no more than five years in prison. However, if someone is convicted of stalking after being served with a restraining order, he or she will automatically spend at least a year in prison.
Finally, a defendant can be charged with additional crimes if he or she is accused of physical or sexual assault, breaking and entering, or damaging property when the harassment occurred.
Call a Member of Our Legal Team Today
At Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys in Miami, we have the experience and resources to provide our clients with a full defense against these, and other types of federal charges. Please call us at 305-670-9919 to receive a free case evaluation from a dedicated member of our legal team.