In Massachusetts, a criminal conviction for stalking or harassment is a serious offense that carries severe fines and penalties, not to mention personal repercussions. But with the right legal defense, it is possible to obtain a favorable outcome including a not guilty verdict or dismissal. Boston stalking attorney Kathleen McCarthy is an experienced trial lawyer highly skilled in defending individuals charged with criminal stalking. Contact her today for a consultation. Call 978-975-8060 to speak with her directly. Here is some information you should know if you or someone you know has been charged with this serious crime.What Defines Stalking?
M.G.L. chapter 265 section 43 provides that whoever, willfully and maliciously engages in a knowing pattern of conduct or a series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and makes a threat with the intent to place the person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury, shall be guilty of stalking. The Commonwealth must prove that the defendant took the actions willfully and maliciously. An act is considered “willful” if it is done intentionally and by design and not by mistake or accident. An act is done with “malice” if the defendant’s conduce was intentional and one without any justification or mitigation.What Are the Fines and Penalties of Stalking and Harassment?
If you are convicted of stalking, you can be sentenced up to five years in state prison or up to two-and one half years in jail. If you are convicted of stalking in violation of a restraining order, you face a one-year mandatory minimum sentence.What Does the Court Consider as Harassment?
To make it easier for Massachusetts’ prosecutors to reach conviction, Massachusetts passed a criminal harassment law in 2000. The law was intended to protect stalking victims who did not receive a viable threat from the defendant. However, it has often been misused by police to obtain a conviction when sufficient evidence is not available to warrant a stalking charge. To reach a harassment conviction, the prosecution only needs to prove that the defendant engaged in a pattern of behavior that intentionally caused the “victim” emotional distress.What Are the Possible Defenses to a Stalking Charge?
Just as easy as a prosecutor can argue the defendant acted in a malicious manner, the defense can argue the defendant’s actions were reasonable. Attorney Kathleen McCarthy can use testimony of witnesses or cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses to show that the defendant’s actions were innocent and not intended to create any type of uncomfortable situation for the complainant.
Also, Boston, Massachusetts stalking attorney Kathleen McCarthy can poke holes in the prosecution’s claim that the defendant acted willfully. Depending on the circumstances, Attorney McCarthy can call witnesses or supply evidence that demonstrates the defendant was unaware of the “victim’s” presence in a certain situation, or that the defendant had access to certain information, such as text-messages or other electronic communication. Again, all the defense has to do is create reasonable doubt. Skilled attorney Kathleen McCarthy understands the constitutional barriers
As with any criminal case, the burden of proof is still on the Commonwealth to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you act fast to obtain experienced legal counsel, you can save yourself from a serious prison sentence, hefty fees and a marred reputation. Again, contact Kathleen McCarthy today if you would like a personal consultation regarding the charge asserted against you or your loved one.