This is the first post in a series of articles addressing defenses against charges of stalking or harassment in Peoria, Illinois. Many people use these terms in everyday conversation without understanding their true legal definitions. This may lead to false accusations of such charges or inadvertent violations of the law. It is important to understand that both stalking and harassment are serious criminal offenses. Accusations of such behavior should be taken seriously and defended against whenever possible. The goal of this series is to provide information, to those accused, about the legal definitions of these offenses and how to respond if accused of such behavior. Another objective is to encourage those facing such allegations to retain a knowledgeable defense attorney as soon as possible to represent their interests. If you have been accused of stalking or harassment, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
This series will focus on the following key topics:
- Understanding the legal definitions and potential penalties of stalking and harassment
- How to respond if a court issues an emergency protective order against you
- Responding to stalking or harassment charges based on false claims
- Taking a case to trial when a resolution cannot be reached
- Understanding that stalking and harassment are not private legal claims
If you have been charged with stalking or harassment, it is important to understand these subjects for several reasons. First, it is important to be aware of what Illinois law considers illegal harassment or stalking of another and the resulting potential criminal penalties. Convictions for harassment, even if a seemingly minor event, will, at a minimum, result in a permanent criminal record, making it difficult to find or keep employment or find housing. Stalking, the more serious of the two offenses, is a felony under Illinois law, which may additionally result in incarceration, fines, loss of one’s FOID card, and more. Second, a person faced with a protective order, Stalking No Contact Order, or summoned to a hearing for such allegations may not know how to respond. It is imperative to seek the advice of a legal professional to explain your rights and obligations. Third, false accusations of stalking or harassment are not uncommon. Failing to respond appropriately, even to bogus allegations, can result in convictions with serious ongoing consequences. Fourth, in some cases, one may face a criminal trial. An accused person should understand how a defense attorney may help navigate the trial process. Lastly, it is important to understand that the decision of whether to prosecute such allegations is in the hands of law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office. Private individuals who accuse others of such behavior cannot elect to drop the charges, even if they regret reporting the matter later. Under such circumstances, this is another important reason to retain an experienced lawyer to represent your interests.
If you have been arrested then my office is ready to assist you. We also serve clients in Bloomington, Decatur, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington and the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford. Additional areas where we handle federal cases include Benton, Chicago, East St. Louis, Springfield, and Urbana.