When we hear the word stalking, we tend to think of someone wearing a black hoodie peering through living room windows in the middle of the night or getting caught hiding in the closet of some Hollywood celebrity. In reality, the definition of Stalking encompasses a large host of behaviors that can result in serious consequences to the accused.
STALKING IN THE CIVIL CONTEXT
Stalking has both a civil and criminal component. A person may seek a civil order of protection by proceeding under the New Hampshire Stalking statute. Obtaining a Stalking order is very similar to obtaining a restraining order, the difference being the parties are not family members or do not have an intimate relationship.
Procedurally, a victim goes to the local Circuit or Superior Court and files a Stalking Petition. Sometimes this is accomplished with the assistance of the local police department. If a person obtains a temporary Stalking petition, the court will schedule the case for a final hearing, usually within 30 days. The plaintiff, (the person seeking the stalking petition) bears the burden of proof that she was the victim of Stalking. The Court will hear from both parties and from any witnesses that may appear to offer testimony. If the plaintiff is able to prove that she was indeed the victim of a Stalking, the court will obviously order that the Stalking stop. The final order will prohibit the defendant from having any contact with the plaintiff whatsoever. Additionally, the court may order that the defendant enter into counseling, pay child support and may make orders regarding the distribution of property. Typically, the Stalking order will remain in effect for 1 year and can be extended by the plaintiff upon a showing of “good cause.”
A person may find themselves facing a criminal complaint alleging Stalking. In a nutshell, Stalking occurs when a person:
- Purposely, knowingly or recklessly engages in a course of conduct (2 or more acts) targeted at a specific person which would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her personal safety or the safety of a member of that person’s immediate family, and the person is actually placed in such fear; or
- Purposely or knowingly engages in a course of conduct targeted at a specific individual, which the actor knows will place that individual in fear for her personal safety or the safety of a member of that individual’s immediate family; or
- After being served with, or otherwise provided notice of, a protective order that prohibits contact with a specific individual, purposely, knowingly or recklessly engages in a single act of conduct that both violates the provisions of the order and threatens the safety of a targeted person, or following, approaching or confronting the person, or appearing at the person’s residence, job, school or causing damage to the person’s residence or simply communicating with the person.
Stalking is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. If you have a previous conviction within the last 7 years you may be charged with a Class B Felony. Further, under Federal Law, you may be prohibited from owning or possessing a Firearm.
PICK UP THE PHONE
If you have a hearing coming up on a civil Stalking Petition or are facing criminal stalking charges you should speak with an Attorney. Mark and Justin are always happy to take your call or have you come into the office for a free consultation.
Our telephone number is: 603-595-5525