Differences Between Harassment and Stalking Charges in Somerset
Harassment is very similar to stalking; however, the most significant difference between stalking and harassment is that, in order to convict an individual of harassment, the state only has to prove that the defendant was engaging in a course of conduct with the intent to annoy or bother another individual. This is very different from stalking, as in order to convict an individual of stalking, the state must prove that the defendant engaged in specific conduct with the intent to place another individual in fear of assault, injury, or death.
Due to the serious penalties that can result from both stalking and harassment, it is important for an individual facing these charges in Somerset to contact a Somerset stalking lawyer as soon as possible.
The difference between harassment and stalking is really just one of degrees. While both harassment and stalking are criminal offenses, harassment is not as serious as stalking.
It is, however, important to note that, in both types of cases, the state must prove the existence of a course of conduct. A course of conduct is defined as a pattern of behavior that is exhibited over a period of time and is done with a specific purpose. In both harassment and stalking cases, the state must prove an existent course of conduct. However, the difference between harassment and stalking is that, in order to prove harassment, the state must only prove that there was a course of conduct and that it was done for the purpose of annoying or harassing the victim.
In order to prove stalking charges, on the other hand, the state must prove that there was a course of conduct and that it was done with the intent to place the victim in fear of serious injury, assault, or death. Thus, while there are similarities between stalking and harassment, stalking involves a much greater and more serious element.
In addition to this distinction, there exists separate penalties associated with convictions of these two crimes.
If an individual is convicted of a first offense of harassment, he or she will face a potential jail sentence of 90 days and/or a fine of $500, which is relatively small in the spectrum of penalties. However, if an individual is convicted of stalking, he or she will face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines. This difference in penalties further illuminates the distinction between stalking and harassment and the comparatively more serious nature of a stalking conviction.
Charged with Both
Although it is unlikely that an individual would be charged with both harassment and stalking concurrently in regards to the same circumstances and set of facts, it is possible. This is because these two crimes, though similar, involve different factual and legal elements. Moreover, if an individual is convicted of stalking, the more serious of the two offenses, it is unlikely that he or she would also be convicted of and receive a separate sentence for harassment.