Thanks to movies like Greta and Fatal Attraction, stalkers have become a figure of desperation and terror. Practically all states have anti-stalking laws that criminalize this behavior, but this increased awareness is a double-edged sword for those who have been wrongly accused or were genuinely unaware that their conduct was illegal.
What Exactly Is Stalking?
Maine Revised Statutes Title 17-A, §210-A defines stalking as deliberately engaging in at least two specific acts (e.g. following, threatening, harassing) that causes or would reasonably cause the victim to:
- Significantly change their routines and actions to avoid the stalker.
- Experience emotional distress that could be confirmed by a mental health diagnosis
- Fear injury or death, either to themselves, a close relative, or a pet
- Fear property tampering or damage
When the stalking occurs between family members or people who shared a household within the six months prior to the stalking, Maine law defines it as domestic violence stalking.
5 Examples of Stalking in Maine
Below is an overview of 5 fictional scenarios that meet the criteria of stalking, provided they are done repeatedly or frequently.
- Following someone home every night. For the past three months, Ruby's co-worker, Joe, has been following her home every night after work and parking outside her apartment building for hours. She has become so stressed that she seriously considers moving.
- Showing up at places the victim is known to frequent. Paul and Anna broke up over a month ago, but she continues to “run into” him while he's frequenting his favorite stores, restaurants, and bars. Paul feels so uncomfortable that he changes his routines, but somehow Anna finds out where he is and shows up.
- Constantly emailing or texting the victim. Sadie met Daniel when he was hired to oversee her company's IT department. He asked her out and she politely declined, but he kept emailing and texting her. Sadie finally complained to Human Resources, but Daniel quit and continued the unwanted communications. He frequently texts her disturbing messages and images throughout the day and night.
- Making harassing phone calls. Julie and her new neighbor recently had a dispute over the latter's late-night partying. Now he calls her regularly to curse her out, leave abusive voice messages in which he threatens to damage her home, or simply interrupts her day and hang up. It has gotten so bad that she wants to change her number.
- Sending unwanted gifts. After Stephanie tired of Allan's controlling behavior, she left him. He keeps pleading for her to return and sends flowers, chocolates, and other gifts to her home and workplace. She has asked him to stop, but he refuses. Daniel's unwanted gifts have become disruptive at Stephanie's office and she is worried that if Daniel continues to send her flowers and gifts to her workplace that she will soon be out of a job.
In Maine, stalking is a typically a Class D crime punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. Anyone with one or more prior convictions faces conviction for a Class C offense, which entails up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. In either case, they will have a criminal record that can harm their employment prospects, access to housing, and chances of getting custody of their children in a divorce or separation.
If you are accused of stalking, there are several defenses that can be presented by an experienced attorney. They could argue that the accusations aren't credible or that your actions would not cause a reasonable person to be afraid. Some activities (for example, yelling at or heckling a political figure) can be presented as Constitutionally-protected free speech.
Contact a Maine Criminal Defense Attorney
At WTB Law, we provide aggressive defense for clients who have been arrested for or accused of stalking. We also represent those who have been served with restraining orders due to stalking allegations. When you work with the attorneys at WTB Law, you get experienced advocates who will defend your legal rights and fight to get the charges against you dropped or dismissed. For immediate and efficient legal representation, call us at 207-571-8146.