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What are the elements of the crime of stalking?

Dallas, TX |

What exactly does an ADA need to prove to convict a person of stalking in the state of Texas?

What is it that makes this particular crime so challenging to prosecute, and what are the conviction rates?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. For the State to prove stalking, they have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that:
    the person, on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engages in conduct, including following the other person, that: (1) the actor knows or reasonably believes the other person will regard as threatening: (A) bodily injury or death for the other person; (B) bodily injury or death for a member of the other person's family or household; or (C) that an offense will be committed against the other person's property; AND 2) causes the other person or a member of the other person's family or household to be placed in fear of bodily injury or death or fear that an offense will be committed against the other person's property; AND (3) would cause a reasonable person to fear: (A) bodily injury or death for himself or herself; (B) bodily injury or death for a member of the person's family or household; or
    (C) that an offense will be committed against the person's property.

    You would probably be better off speaking to prosecutors about what is so challenging, but in the few of these that I have worked on, the intent element always seems to be the sticking point for the State. Many of these cases get filed for behavior that is creepy, but doesn't rise to the level of death threats or property damage.

    Conviction rates vary; you would have to get that data from TX DPS or the individual police offices/DA offices or FBI statistics.


  2. The elements are listed in section 42.072 of the Texas Penal Code.

    Sec. 42.072. STALKING. (a) A person commits an offense if the person, on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engages in conduct, including following the other person, that:
    (1) the actor knows or reasonably believes the other person will regard as threatening:
    (A) bodily injury or death for the other person;
    (B) bodily injury or death for a member of the other person's family or household; or
    (C) that an offense will be committed against the other person's property;
    (2) causes the other person or a member of the other person's family or household to be placed in fear of bodily injury or death or fear that an offense will be committed against the other person's property; and
    (3) would cause a reasonable person to fear:
    (A) bodily injury or death for himself or herself;
    (B) bodily injury or death for a member of the person's family or household; or
    (C) that an offense will be committed against the person's property.
    (b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the actor has previously been convicted under this section.
    (c) In this section, "family," "household," and "member of a household" have the meanings assigned by Section 71.01, Family Code.

    It is difficult to prove because it is vague and ADA do not like to file this charge because there are more specific crimes that are easier for them to prove.


  3. As noted above, it is the intent element where the DAs office gets hung up. In Dallas, most cases are not taken to trial by the ADAs if they can avoid it because they don't want to rack up losses. If you have been charged with this offense and believe that you are not guilty, you should contact a local Dallas attorney to discuss your options and prepare a defense if possible.

    Good luck.

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