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Information technology has made stalking more common

One in six women and one in 19 men around the country have been plagued by a stalker at least once according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the data suggests that the perpetrators in the vast majority of these cases in Texas and across the U.S. were individuals who the victims either knew or had been romantically involved with. Only one in eight female stalking victims reported being harassed by a stranger.

Most jurisdictions define stalking as a series of actions taken against another person that could reasonably cause that person to be afraid. Actions that could be considered stalking behavior include nonconsensual communication, leaving the victim items such as gifts, lying in wait for the victim, acts of vandalism, spreading rumors about the victim and remaining in visual or physical proximity to the victim without consent.

The advent of the information age and the introduction of communication tools like email and social media have provided stalkers with new ways to harass their victims, and the federal government took action to protect stalking victims from these new dangers in 2005 by passing the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. This law extends the provisions of interstate stalking laws to include cyberstalking, and it addresses both online harassment and the gathering of sensitive information for malicious purposes.

Stalking is classified as a third-degree felony under Texas law. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may urge those accused of stalking to take these allegations seriously as the penalties for this kind of behavior can be as severe as those handed down to individuals convicted of other violent crimes. However, establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt can be difficult in stalking cases, and prosecutors may be willing to reduce stalking charges in return for a speedy resolution when defendants have no history of violent behavior and display signs of genuine remorse.

Source: The Texas Legislature, "42.072 Stalking" , accessed on May 23, 2018

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