Being arrested for stalking in Virginia is a complicated experience. Whether your charges are classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, convictions can result in severe consequences that negatively affect the rest of your life. Raising defenses to fight stalking charges in this type of case is crucial. The experienced Manassas criminal defense attorneys at The Wilson Law Firm can identify your strongest defenses and use them to support your rights and freedom.
Stalking: Understanding the Crime and Potential Punishments in Virginia
Before delving into the defenses available to you, you need to know what constitutes stalking in Virginia and its potential penalties. Stalking is defined as a repeated course of action that intentionally places another person in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault, or bodily harm.
Stalking charges are categorized into two main classes: Class 1 misdemeanor and Class 6 felony:
- If convicted of Class 1 misdemeanor stalking, you may face up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Additionally, the court may impose a protective order against you, prohibiting you from having any contact with the alleged victim.
- Stalking can be elevated to a Class 6 felony if you were convicted of stalking within the past five years. A Class 6 felony conviction carries a potential prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $2,500. As with a misdemeanor stalking charge, the court may also issue a protective order.
Defenses to Fight Stalking Charges in Manassas
Fortunately, you may have strong defenses to fight a stalking conviction. You may be able to use them to get the charges dismissed or reduced through a plea bargain. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have used these common defenses to help our clients.
#1: Not Met Burden of Proof
One of the primary defenses against stalking charges is challenging the prosecution's ability to meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Our lawyer may argue that the evidence presented is insufficient to establish this burden, which can result in reduced charges or even acquittal.
#2: Mistaken Identity
If you believe you were wrongfully identified as the perpetrator, asserting mistaken identity is a viable defense. This strategy can involve providing an alibi, presenting evidence that you were elsewhere during the alleged stalking, or demonstrating that the victim misidentified you.
#3. No Intent to Make Victim Fearful
Stalking charges hinge on the intent to induce fear in the victim. It can be a powerful defense if you can demonstrate that your actions weren’t motivated by such intent. Our Manassas attorneys may show that your interactions with the alleged victim were misconstrued or lacked the requisite purpose to constitute stalking.
#4: Reasonable Person Would Not Be Afraid
Another defense strategy challenges the notion that a reasonable person wouldn’t have been fearful based on your conduct. If your actions were innocuous or misinterpreted, your lawyer can argue that they shouldn’t have caused fear in the alleged victim.