Stalking in Tennessee is defined as “a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested, and that causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.” Stalking is a serious charge that can lead to a criminal conviction, loss of employment, and loss of firearm rights.
There are several different categories of stalking in Tennessee. Misdemeanor stalking is punishable up to 11 months and 29 days. Aggravated stalking is a Class E felony punishable from 1-6 years. Aggravated stalking is 1) when a weapon is displayed, 2) the victim is under 18 and at least five years younger than the defendant, 3) the defendant has a previous conviction for stalking within seven years, 4) the defendant makes a threat to the victim or family member that places them in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury, or 5) the defendant is in violation of a restraining order or order of protection.
The most serious offense is especially aggravated stalking. It is a Class C felony punishable from 3-15 years. Especially aggravated stalking is committed when the accused has previously been convicted of stalking or aggravated stalking involving the same person, or the accused intentionally or recklessly causes injury to the victim or family member.
Tennessee stalking charges can carry enhanced punishment. For instance, if probation is granted the court may keep the defendant on probation for the maximum term for that offense. So if an individual is convicted of aggravated stalking and receives probation, he or she could be sentenced up to six years even if they have no prior record. Offenders can be ordered to undergo mental health treatment, and under federal law anyone convicted of stalking may not possess a firearm.
Stalking is a diversion eligible offense, meaning that first-time offenders may apply to have the charge removed from their record after completing probation. The decision to grant probation, however, is up to the judge and it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get probation. You must present yourself in the best possible light to the judge and be totally honest in accepting responsibility. Courts take stalking cases very seriously because of the potential for further violence, including assault and even murder.
To see what strategies are best to defend against your stalking charge, contact Memphis criminal defense lawyer Patrick Stegall. Mr. Stegall can help you keep the charge off your record if you’re a first-time offender, or can formulate the best plan to go to trial and fight the case. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (901) 205-9894.