Stalking in Texas: definitions and criminal consequences

Like many Texas residents, you have heard about the term “stalking,” but you may be confused as to what, exactly, qualifies as stalking behavior.

Much of what we see on television shows and social media trivializes actual stalking or assigns a humorous aspect to it. For example, a co-worker might jokingly say you are stalking her if you run into her a few times outside your workplace. Or, someone in your social group might accuse you of stalking if you ask her out and she declines, and a few months later you ask her out again in hopes that she has changed her mind.

Not surprisingly, you might wonder what stalking really is. FindLaw explains that stalking is ongoing, unreciprocated and unwanted behavior or harassment that can be frightening to the other person.

Common stalking behaviors

Stalking often occurs after a relationship has ended, particularly if domestic violence was a part of the relationship. A person who is unable to let go may follow the other person from his or her workplace to home, the grocery store and other places. Constant phone calls, text messages, emails and posts on social media can also count as stalking.

A stalking victim would usually need a reasonable cause to feel threatened or afraid for his or her life. Therefore, as you can see, you would likely not face stalking charges if you casually asked your friend out twice and she turned you down – although you would need to be cautious with your behavior with that person after that.

Penalties for a stalking conviction

In Texas, stalking is a third-degree felony. A subsequent conviction for stalking is a felony of the second degree. Facing accusations of something you are uncertain about or are sure you didn’t do can be frightening and confusing. You are entitled to a competent defense to protect your rights.

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