This is the final post in a series of articles addressing defending against charges of stalking or harassment in Peoria, Illinois. My previous article explained that such charges are criminal in nature versus private civil disputes between the individuals involved. The decision whether to pursue criminal charges and prosecute stalking or harassment cases will be made by the state. This is true even if the victim does not wish to “press charges” against the defendant after they report such activity to law enforcement. It is imperative to retain experienced defense counsel if you have been accused of these crimes, so that you may vigorously defend yourself against such charges. The objectives of this series have been to clarify the legal definitions of stalking and harassment and to encourage those facing such allegations to retain a knowledgeable attorney to assist in their defense. If you have been charged with a crime then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
This series discussed the following 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
Many Peoria residents fail to understand the seriousness of such charges. When accused of such offenses, one should be prepared to defend against the accusations for several reasons. First, the legal definition of these charges may be different than what people commonly think. In many cases, seemingly minor disagreements can lead to harassment charges, convictions for which result in a permanent criminal record with lasting impacts on one’s ability to find employment or housing. If one’s behavior is considered stalking, a conviction in Illinois is a felony offense, which may result in significant fines and incarceration. Second, alleged victims of such behavior may quickly obtain a protective order against the accused. It is imperative to respond quickly and defend oneself to avoid the negative consequences protective orders may impose. Third, unfortunately, it is not unusual for individuals to make false claims of stalking or harassment. It is essential to defend against fabricated charges to avoid a wrongful conviction. Fourth, if a case proceeds to a trial, the accused should be aware of what to expect during the process and the essential role of a criminal defense attorney. Finally, because these are criminal charges, private individuals cannot decide to “drop the charges” against you. That decision will ultimately rest with law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office.
If you have been arrested then my office is ready to assist you. In addition to Peoria, 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.