Stalking is a pattern of malicious or intentional behavior that makes the victim feel frightened or fearful for their life. Nationwide, around 8% of women and 2% of men will be stalked at some point in their lifetime. The vast majority of stalkers are men.
Most cases of stalking involve a person, the stalker, inappropriately fixating on another person, the victim. The stalker may follow the victim, spy on the victim, break into the victim’s home and workplace, and try to contact the victim frequently by phone, text, email, and paper mail. Some stalkers send unwanted gifts to their victim or track the victim across social media. In some cases, the stalker will directly or indirectly threaten the victim, the victim’s family, or the victim’s pet with death or bodily harm.
However, it is also all too common for an individual to be falsely accused of stalking for a variety of reasons. You may feel shocked when your invitations for a date are taken as stalking. Or, when your walk home coincides with a co-worker’s, you may feel totally surprised when that co-worker construes your attention as stalking. Stalking is intentional behavior, and sometimes people’s social behavior is misunderstood.
If you’ve been falsely accused of stalking, your immediate reaction might be to contact the accuser to try and explain your intentions to make them feel at ease. But this is actually one of the worst things you can do. It can confuse your situation and your case even further. Instead, you should immediately contact the law firm of Adras & Altig today. We understand your legal rights in detail and have helped numerous people in your situation. We can help you, too.
Contact us online or call us for a free consultation today.
NRS 200.575—Nevada Stalking Laws
Stalking is covered in Nevada under NRS 200.575. It is defined as an individual engaging in a pattern of behavior that makes the victim feel frightened, intimidated, fearful, and harassed. Stalking includes making a victim fear for the safety of immediate family members, pets, and close friends.
Except in the case of celebrities, it is very rare for a complete stranger to stalk someone. Most stalking cases seem to be on the domestic abuse spectrum, since most stalkers are men who stalk ex-wives and ex-girlfriends. Many of these men physically and/or sexually abused their former partner, and a few may go on to murder their victim after stalking her.
Other stalkers meet their victims at work, the gym, or in social venues like casinos, bars, and clubs, and proceed to stalk the victim after the close relationship the stalker is imagining does not materialize.
Most stalkers are not mentally ill. They are motivated by anger, resentment, and rejection. Many suffer from substance abuse disorders, personality disorders, and feelings of inadequacy.
Individuals engaging in legal protest activities or worker strikes are not classified as stalkers. Also, reporters, journalists, and photographers that are employed by a news-gathering organization are not considered to be stalkers if their behavior is found to be within reasonable bounds of conduct for persons in their professions.
What Are the Penalties for Stalking in Las Vegas?
First and second stalking offenses are considered to be misdemeanors, unless the stalker’s actions cause the victim to reasonably fear death or bodily harm, in which case the crime becomes a felony. Three or more stalking offenses automatically become felonies.
Misdemeanors are usually punished with a fine or a few months in prison, while felonies are considered to be serious offenses that may have lengthy prison sentences and often have serious adverse effects on the rest of your life, such as limiting your employment prospects.
First stalking offenses of a minor by an adult or by another minor who is five or more years older than the victim are considered to be a misdemeanor. Any additional stalking offenses against a minor are felonies.
A stalker who uses social media, electronic messaging, or text messaging to spread information that places the victim at increased risk of harm has automatically committed a felony.
Persons convicted of stalking may, under some circumstances, have their firearms seized and removed from their possession and be permanently barred from owning firearms.
Individuals who believe they are being stalked can request that the courts enact restraining or protection orders that bar the stalker from coming within a certain number of feet of the victim, the victim’s family, the victim’s home, and the victim’s workplace. The courts may grant restraining orders in the absence of a conviction or even an arrest of the alleged stalker.
Defenses Against Stalking Charges
Although stalking is a terrifying crime, in some cases, victims aren’t really being stalked and are just confused by the so-called stalker’s behavior. In Las Vegas, friendships can spring up overnight, and some people may be mistaken about how much their new friend really likes them. So, when they keep trying to make contact with their new friend, this person may find the onslaught of invitations, phone calls, and messages to be overwhelming. They may feel harassed and mistakenly think they are being stalked.
Some men have learned from movies and TV shows that if they ignore a women’s initial refusal for a date and keep asking her, she will eventually say yes. Please know, this never happens in real life. If you ignore the initial refusal and keep asking and making advances toward the woman, you could be committing sexual harassment.
In some cases of sexual harassment, particularly in cases where a man is harassing a woman in her workplace and she can’t get away or firmly tell him to go away, the woman may experience extreme distress and confuse sexual harassment with stalking.
Other cases of mistaken stalking can occur when two people have a similar schedule that inadvertently places them in regular contact with each other. For example, a worker at a casino finishes her shift every night at 2:30 am and walks three blocks to catch a bus home. Another worker at a nearby restaurant is tasked with taking the cash to the bank every night at the same time and ends up “following” the casino worker practically every night. While this situation might seem terrifying to the casino worker, it is not stalking.
If a stalking case is brought to court, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was stalking the victim and that the pattern of behavior would reasonably be expected to cause fear and intimidation.
False Accusations of Stalking
Increasing awareness of stalking has, unfortunately, led to some individuals deliberately falsely accusing others of stalking. Researchers studied 12 false claims of stalking and compared their characteristics to 100 true claims of stalking.
They found that false stalking claims differed from real claims in the following characteristics:
- False victims asked for help shortly after they claimed the stalking had started, while real victims experienced stalking for fairly lengthy periods before asking for help.
- False victims were less likely than real victims to claim they had received harassing or threatening letters.
- Unlike real victims, false victims were very unlikely to claim the stalker had directed threats of violence toward their family, pets, or close friends.
- False victims were more likely than real victims to seek medical and legal help.
- Both false and real victims claimed to be experiencing similar levels of emotional distress, including thoughts of suicide.
Some false claims of stalking are malicious and are intended to cause harm to the accused stalker. In these cases, there is usually an obvious motive behind the false victim’s attempt to destroy the accused person’s life or business.
How to Deal with False and Exaggerated Stalking Claims
If you have been accused of stalking, it is best to immediately consult an experienced lawyer to discuss the issue. Some cases can quickly be resolved by simply apologizing to the accuser and explaining that no, you weren’t following the “victim” at all. It was just a coincidence of timing due to similar schedules. Likewise, if you were just being a bit too pushy in contacting an acquaintance, an apology and an explanation may be sufficient to settle the matter.
If you have been engaged in sexual harassment, not stalking, while it is inappropriate and a crime, the penalties are usually much less severe than penalties for stalking. Besides, most sexual harassment victims are willing to settle the issue out of court, often merely in exchange for discontinuation of the harassing behavior. In some cases, the sexual harassment victim may insist on a restraining order, but they usually have no interest in pursuing the case in court.
If you believe the false stalking claim was motivated by malicious intent, it is essential to contact a lawyer to work out a valid legal defense as soon as possible.
The absolute worst thing to do if you are accused of stalking is to try to contact the accuser. Do not approach, call, text, or send the accuser a letter. This can be difficult to comply with because most people accused of stalking are puzzled and confused and want to reach out to the accuser to discuss the issue.
It is also imperative to NOT talk to law enforcement without an attorney present or to try to spontaneously offer evidence that you aren’t stalking to law enforcement. Call an experienced lawyer immediately and do your best to stay as far away as possible from the accuser.
Contact a Nevada Stalking Defense Lawyer at Adras & Altig
If you have been accused of stalking, found out that a restraining order has been enacted against you for stalking, or you realized law enforcement is investigating you after an accusation of stalking, you need immediate legal advice.
Adras & Altig criminal defense attorneys care about each and every client. Between us, we have decades of experience with this type of case and we work as a team. When you work with one attorney, you get the benefit of our entire firm’s knowledge and skills.
We have a high success rate in dealing with stalking accusations and can help you, too. Call our office today or contact us online to set up a free evaluation.