judge with gavel and law book in handThis is the fifth post in my series of articles which will discuss dealing with Peoria, Illinois charges of stalking and harassment. My last article discussed why “harassment” is considered a crime. Harassment and stalking charges are often misunderstood by the public. It is also important to understand what conduct can lead to a charge of stalking. These types of charges should always be taken seriously. The first step in taking them seriously is to speak with a criminal defense attorney. In this post I will address key elements that defendants should understand about Illinois’ stalking laws. If you or someone you love has been arrested, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

Stalking can result in a Class 4 felony in Peoria and other Illinois areas

A first offense of stalking is a Class 4 felony in Illinois and it carries potential prison time of one to three years and/or a fine of up to $25,000. If you are charged with a second offense of stalking or aggravated stalking, the prison time can be increased up to five years and it counts as a Class 3 felony. Stalking is considered more severe than harassment under the law. Illinois law defines stalking as engaging in conduct towards a person knowing it causes emotional distress or fear. It can also be defined as following a person on two separate occasions while threatening bodily harm or sexual assault. Stalking requires more than one instance of the threatening conduct and can include direct or indirect surveillance or communication with the victim.

If you are charged with stalking, it is likely that the person has already reported the behavior as threatening and asked you to leave them alone. There are times when Peoria defendants were in the possession of a gun while following the victim or they have been previously charged with harassment. Restraining orders may already be in place at the time that stalking charges were pressed. Therefore, the charge of stalking could also result in the additional charge of the violation of the restraining order and possibly the illegal possession of a firearm. These types of circumstances and multiple charges can increase the prison sentence significantly.

Illinois defendants who are charged with stalking often face additional charges

Stalking under Illinois law constitutes a felony. To rise to the level of stalking, the defendant must engage in a pattern of following the victim as well as threatening behavior. If the victim is a family member or a minor, the charges may be enhanced to include more prison time or penalties. Additional charges one could face are domestic violence, sexual assault, interfering with the reporting of domestic violence, and violation of a protective order. The prosecution takes these matters seriously and often prosecute aggressively to prevent further injury or risk to the victim.

Many times, a defendant tries to take the matter into their own hands and handle it privately. Any continued contact with the victim could result in a conviction of violating a restraining order or aggravating factors to a stalking charge. If you have been accused of stalking, it is important to meet with an attorney immediately. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can assist you in developing a defense or reducing potential jail time. Contact my office today to speak with a Peoria attorney. We also serve the cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington. I serve the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Shuyler, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford. I also handle federal cases in Urbana.