The crime of stalking in Arkansas comes in several different degrees. There is stalking in the first degree, second degree, and third degree. Each have different penalties. First degree stalking is the most serious of the three. It is a Class C felony punishable from 3-10 years. What makes this one so serious is that the accused must have been under an order of protection, or has previously been convicted of stalking, or a deadly weapon is involved. So in addition to the required elements of the crime, one of those enhancing factors must be involved.
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Stalking in the second degree is a D felony carrying up to six years. This type of stalking requires threats that place the victim in imminent fear of serious bodily injury or death. In other words the threats have to be very serious and specific enough to make the recipient believe he or she is about to be harmed.
Stalking in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor punishable up to one year. This is the type of stalking that would place a person under emotional distress and in fear for his or her safety. Stalking in the third degree is what most first-time stalking offenders would probably be facing if charged. Even though it’s a misdemeanor and not a felony it’s a serious offense. In addition to up to a year of punishment, if convicted you lose your right to have a gun under federal law. With technology and instant communication, stalking has become a more serious crime in our society. Meanings of words get misinterpreted through an email, text, or social media comment, and before you know it someone’s feelings are hurt and the police are getting called.
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If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll need a competent Arkansas stalking crimes lawyer. If you’re a first-time offender you may qualify for programs to keep the charge off your record. But if you have priors, or if it’s a serious offense, you may wish to go to trial and clear your name. It all depends on the facts of your case.
Patrick Stegall is a stalking crimes lawyer in Arkansas, including West Memphis, Marion, and Forrest City. Contact him today for help with your case and to learn about your options.[/column]