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Stalking in Massachusetts

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Stalking is considered a felony in Massachusetts. The crime is governed by section 43 of General Law chapter 265 and involves engaging in a series of actions or behaviors directed at a specific person that would cause significant emotional distress and imminent fear of severe injuries or death.

Stalking Elements

To convict the defendant of stalking, the Commonwealth must meet the high burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant:

  1. Willfully and maliciously engaged;
  2. In a pattern of conduct or speech, or series of acts;
  3. On at least three separate occasions;
  4. Which were targeted at a specific person;
  5. That would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress; and
  6. Involved a threat with the intent to cause imminent fear of death or serious bodily injury

Stalking and criminal harassment are essentially the same charge except for the additional element of a threat. The latter charge is governed by section 43A of chapter 265. The threat element involved in stalking turns the act into a felony. Only one threat is needed to meet the criteria of the threat element. It is also crucial to notice that intent plays a significant role in stalking.

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Criminal Penalties

Basic Offense

State Prison: Not more than 5 years (60 months) OR
House of Corrections: Not more than 2.5 years (30 months); AND/OR
Fine: Not more than $1,000

Second or Subsequent Offense

State Prison or House of Corrections: Mandatory minimum of 2 years (24 months) but not more than 10 years

Stalking in Violation of a Court Order

State Prison or House of Corrections: Mandatory minimum of 1 year (12 months) but not more than 5 years (60 months)


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be Charged with Stalking Even if There is No Direct Physical Contact?

Yes. Stalking does not require any physical contact and instead can include acts, threats, or conduct that seriously alarms or annoys a person, would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and would place the person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury. As discussed above, these acts or threats can be verbal, made via the mail, or made via electronic communications.

What Behaviors Are Considered Stalking?

Incessant calling, texting, emailing, and sending social media messages are common types of communication that can constitute acts of stalking. Physically showing up uninvited to places can be considered stalking, as well as repeatedly taking photos or videos of someone without their consent or knowledge. However, these incidents must be paired with at least one threat in order for the prosecution to succeed on a stalking charge.

Can I be Charged With Stalking if the Alleged Victim is a Former Partner or Spouse?

Yes. The parties involved in an allegation of stalking can be total strangers or close partners or spouses. There is no requirement to show a relationship between the parties for acts or threats to fall under the stalking statute, and the existence of a relationship between the parties does not exclude someone from being subject to a stalking prosecution.

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Contact Us for Expert Defense

If you’re facing stalking charges, your choice of legal representation can significantly impact the outcome of your case. At Nate Amendola Defense, our skilled criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights, build a strong defense and seeking the best possible outcome for you. Contact us today for a confidential consultation to discuss your case and explore your legal options.