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Posted by attorney Jared Austin

Often arising from emotionally charged situations or relationships, Michigan takes stalking, or criminal harassment, very seriously. It is defined under MCL 750.411 as:

1) a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual,

2) that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested, and

3) that actually did cause the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.

Now, let's examine more closely what some of these terms and phrases mean.

Course of Conduct-- A series of two or more separate, non-continuous acts evidencing a continuity of purpose. This is very crucial as you cannot be found guilty of stalking if there is only one incident. While it may seem like more than one incident on the surface, it may be considered one long, continuous occurrence (i.e. sending a number of text messages in a row).

Harassment-- Conduct including, but not limited to, repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress and that actually causes the victim emotional distress. Harassment does not include a constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose.

Unconsented Contact-- When the defendant contacts the victim against their wishes or without permission and that the contact is not consented to has been made known to the defendant. This includes, but is not limited to:

· following or appearing within the victim's sight

· approaching or confronting the victim in a public place or on private property

· appearing at victim's workplace or residence

· entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by the victim

· contacting the victim by phone, email, or other electronic means

· placing an object on or delivering an object to property owned, leased, or occupied by the victim

Keep in mind that the contact can be a combination of both consented and un-consented. Often this occurs where contact is consented to in one incident but not in another. For example, consent may be given to contact the victim regarding a child-in-common, but not for any other purpose.

There is no requirement of a prior domestic relationship.

Punishment: If convicted of stalking, you face up to one-year in jail and/or $1,000 in fines. You can also be placed on probation up to five years (very rare for a one-year misdemeanor) and the judge can (and usually does) order no contact with the victim.

If the victim is under 18 years old and there is at least a five-year age difference between the victim and defendant, the charge is a felony carrying up to five years in prison and/or $10,000 in fines.

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