Interstate Stalking Charges
In 1996, Congress passed the Interstate Stalking Act, a federal law that makes it a crime to travel across state lines with the intent to injure or harass someone else. There are, however, other factors that must be fulfilled before a person can be convicted of interstate stalking, which comes with severe penalties, so if you have been accused of stalking or a similar offense, it is critical to contact a federal crime lawyer who has the resources and experience necessary to build a strong defense.
Who Can be Charged with Interstate Stalking?
Most stalking offenses are handled by individual courts in the state where the crime was allegedly committed. There is an exception, however, that applies in cases where a defendant is accused of actually traveling across state boundaries with the intent to harass or injure another person. Even in these cases, a defendant can only be charged in federal court if prosecutors can also prove that in the course of or as a result of that travel:
- The defendant placed his or her alleged target or a member of that person’s family in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or death; or
- The defendant caused, attempted to cause, or would have been reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress to another person or one of that individual’s family members.
In these cases, prosecutors must also prove that at the time of the alleged offense, the defendant:
- Intended to kill, harass, injure, intimidate, or place someone else under surveillance with the intent to harass, injure, or intimidate that person; and
- Used the mail, interactive computer service, electronic communication system, or any facility of interstate commerce.
The element of intent is especially important in these types of cases, as a defendant can only be convicted if prosecutors can prove that he or she had the required specific intent when actually crossing state lines. If no criminal activity was contemplated at the time of travel, but arose later, then a defendant cannot be convicted of interstate stalking.
Aside from arguing that he or she didn’t have the requisite intent to commit an act of interstate stalking, a defendant can also provide evidence demonstrating that the alleged victim was not placed in a position of reasonable fear of substantial bodily injury or emotional distress. Proving that a defendant did not actually cross state lines can also defeat a charge of interstate stalking. Finally, as with all criminal prosecutions, defendants can escape conviction by proving that the evidence being raised against them was the result of an improper search or seizure. Regardless of the arguments raised, mounting a strong defense against these kinds of charges is extremely important, as conviction comes with harsh penalties ranging from five years to life imprisonment.
Call Today to Have Your Case Evaluated for Free by an Experienced Federal Crime Lawyer
To speak with a dedicated and knowledgeable federal crime attorney about your pending interstate stalking charges, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 today.