Stalking and Criminal Harassment
Stalking is a crime under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 43.How Does the District Attorney Prove Stalking in Massachusetts?
To convict a defendant of stalking, the prosecutor must prove the following five elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant, over a period of time, engaged in a knowing series of acts or pattern of conduct, involving at least three incidents directed at the specific alleged victim.
- The defendant’s acts would cause substantial emotional distress for a reasonable person.
- The defendant’s acts actually caused that alleged victim to become seriously annoyed or alarmed.
- The defendant committed those acts maliciously and willfully. A willful act is one done intentionally, but it does not require that the defendant intended the consequences. A mistake or accident is not a willful act. A malicious act is an intentional act committed without justification. If an act is malicious, any reasonable person would foresee the harm to the alleged victim. Malice does not require cruelty, revenge, hostility or intent to cause harm.
- The defendant made a threat intending to place the alleged victim in imminent fear of bodily injury or death. This element is interpreted like the common law definition of assault.
If you are convicted of stalking, you face a state prison sentence of up to five years, or alternatively, a fine up to $1,000 or imprisonment in a house of correction for up to two and one half years or both.What is Criminal Harassment in Massachusetts?
Criminal harassment is prohibited by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 43A. Before a defendant can be convicted of this crime, the prosecutor has to prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant, over a period of time, engaged in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts directed at the specific alleged victim on three separate occasions. Such conduct includes use of mail, e-mail, fax or telephone.
- To satisfy this element, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended that the alleged victim know that each of these acts was directed at him.
- The defendant’s acts actually caused the alleged victim to be seriously alarmed.
- The defendant committed those acts willfully and maliciously. The same definitions of willfully and maliciously from above apply.
If you are convicted of criminal harassment, you face up to two and one half years imprisonment in a house of correction or a fine of up to $1,000, or both. A second or subsequent conviction is punishable by up to two and one half years in a house of correction or up to ten years in state prison.Stalking, Criminal Harassment, Restraining Orders and Harassment Prevention Orders
There is a strong connection between the crimes of criminal harassment, stalking and restraining orders. The allegation of the crime often prompts the police of a victim witness advocate from the district attorney’s office to recommend the complainant file a restraining order. The hearing on the restraining order will occur at the time of arraignment so make sure you have hired a lawyer to help prevent the issuance of this order. Your lawyer can challenge the allegations made by the complainant at this hearing. This challenge might result in a dismissal of the underlying complaint.
If you have been charged with this offense, call the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman at 617-263-6800 or contact us online today.
Harassment Prevention Order Against Public School Bus Driver Vacated After Hearing
Lynn District Court: The complainant applied for and was granted a temporary Harassment Prevention Order against a local public school bus driver. She believed that the defendant and her husband were involved with one another. She claimed that the defendant went to her house and paced her driveway for twenty minutes. She also received several letters and telephone calls of a harassing nature from the defendant. Our office was hired to try to vacate the order. Today, after a hearing, Attorney Neyman was able to get the order vacated.
Pretrial Probation Imposed for Woman Accused of Criminal Harassment , Identity Fraud and Violating a Harassment Prevention Order
Wrentham District Court: After nearly a two year investigation members of the Medway, Massachusetts Police Department determined that the defendant, wife of the victim's former husband had been engaging in a pattern of conduct designed to harass. The police forensic investigation led to the execution of a Search Warrant at the defendant's home from which all electronic devices capable of sending communications were seized. Officers and the prosecution concluded that our client had systematically sent hundreds of harassing emails to the victim over the course of the two years sufficient to warrant the issuance of a Harassment Prevention Order. Simultaneously, the defendant was alleged assuming the victim's identity to further the harassment efforts. Notwithstanding the issuance of the Harassment Prevention Order the abuse continued and our client was charged. After nearly eighteen months of litigation Attorney Neyman secured pretrial probation for the defendant. She will have no criminal record.
Harassment Prevention Order does not issue against South Shore developer
Plymouth District Court: The complainant alleged that our client, a developer from the South Shore cut down a substantial amount of trees on her property. She further alleged that on several occasions our client shouted obscenities at her and approached her in a threatening manner. The abuse continued for a one year period causing the complainant severe emotional problems warranting mental health treatment. Also, on several occasions the complainant called the police who in turn suggested that she and her husband apply for a Harassment Prevention Order. They did. Earlier today a hearing was held in the Plymouth District Court. Attorney Neyman was able to prevent the issuance of the Harassment Prevention Order.