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How does Connecticut law define stalking?

Stalking laws are a relatively recent addition to the Connecticut statutes. The first one dates back only to 1992. Our stalking laws have been updated since then to take into account activity via cellphones and the Internet in addition to physical stalking. Make no mistake -- law enforcement officers and prosecutors take stalking allegations seriously.

By definition, stalking is a pattern of behavior intended to intimidate someone or to make him or her fearful. We often think of stalking as following someone, watching them or showing up uninvited at their home or workplace. However, you don't have to make physical or even visual contact with a person to be accused of stalking. Someone who sends unwanted gifts, or engages in threats via telephone, text or social media can be charged with stalking if the actions cause a person to reasonably fear for his or her safety.

Many stalking accusations involve former spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends. However, it doesn't matter what the relationship is or was between the people.

Under Connecticut law, there are three degrees of stalking. The most serious charge is a Class D felony. A stalking in the 1st degree charge can be leveled under any of these three circumstances:

-- The conduct violates a current court order.

-- The alleged victim is younger than 16.

-- The accused has previously been convicted of stalking.

Stalking in the 2nd and 3rd degree are both misdemeanors. Both charges involve repeatedly and intentionally following someone or lying in wait if the actions cause a person to reasonably be afraid.

It's essential for people to understand how their words and actions are perceived by others. In this age of often-anonymous social media and communication by text and email, people sometimes get used to voicing thoughts that they wouldn't voice face-to-face. Whatever the situation, if you find yourself facing a stalking charge, it's essential to get legal guidance right away to help protect your future and your reputation.

Source: FindLaw, "Connecticut Stalking Laws," accessed Nov. 05, 2015

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