What Qualifies as “Stalking” in Pennsylvania?

What Qualifies as “Stalking” in Pennsylvania?

If you have been accused of stalking in Pennsylvania, you need to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The law governing stalking is highly subjective, but the penalties can be severe. The Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr, has the skill, knowledge, experience and resources to protect your rights.

The Legal Definition of Stalking in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law, stalking may take one of two forms:

  • a course of conduct or repeated acts toward another person…that demonstrate an intent to place that person in reasonable fear of bodily injury, or to cause substantial emotional distress to that person, or
  • a course of conduct or repeated communications that demonstrate the same intent or have the same effect

The state of Pennsylvania takes stalking offenses seriously, as evidence shows that such behavior often leads to physical acts of violence. For a first offense, you will typically be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor, which can carry a penalty of up to a year in jail. If you have a prior stalking conviction, or have been charged with other offenses toward the same victim, you may face 3rd degree felony charges, with a maximum prison term of seven years.

The statute provides definitions of some of the key terms, though in most instances, the definitions only lead to more questions.

  • “course of conduct” includes a “pattern of actions” of more than one act, committed over any period of time, regardless how short. The acts may be threatening, but can also be lewd, lascivious or obscene. The acts can include words, language, drawings, caricatures or physical acts. They may be conducted in person or anonymously.
  • “emotional distress” is defined as a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish (though the statute does not define “anguish”
  • “communication” is considered to be the conveyance of a message by oral, nonverbal, written or electronic means, including telephone, e-mail, Internet, fax, telex, wireless communication or similar transmission. Such conveyance must be without the intent of legitimate communication or address. (The statute has no standard for determining what is “legitimate”)

Contact Our Office

At the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr, we have more than 30 years of practice experience. We can help protect you when you have been charged with stalking. Contact us online or call us at 610-565-0240 to set up an appointment. There is no charge for your initial consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We take Visa, MasterCard and Discover, as well as debit cards.

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