By Law Office of A. Oliver Hassibi

March 11, 2018

In recent years, states across the country have enacted laws that criminalize stalking behaviors that strike fear in the hearts of victims. Stalkers try to control their victims by startling behavior or threats that are meant to terrify the victim or make them fear for their safety. Stalkers can be a former partner or spouse, they can be a co-worker or neighbor, or they can be a complete stranger. The stalker can feel an obsessive love toward their victim, or an obsessive hatred.

A stalker can follow their victim for a period of days or weeks, or they can stalk their victim for years. Usually, the stalking victim is afraid the stalker will hurt them, a close friend, or a family member, or they fear the stalker will do something to damage their property, such as slashing their tires, breaking the windows of their car, or even injuring their pets.

Stalkers themselves tend to perpetuate their stalking behaviors, but they don’t always act alone. Sometimes they enlist others to help them stalk their victims.

Stalking behaviors include but are not limited to:

  • Following the victim.
  • Following the victim’s family.
  • Vandalizing the victim’s car or other property.
  • Breaking into the victim’s home.
  • Making threatening calls to the victim.
  • Sending threatening texts or email to the victim.
  • Driving by the victim’s home, work, or other places the victim frequents.
  • Parking near the victim’s home to watch him or her.

Texas’ Laws Against Stalking

In Texas, two laws criminalize the act of stalking: 1) terroristic threat under Section 22.07 of the Penal Code, and 2) stalking under Section 42.072 of the Texas Penal Code.

Under Sec. 22.07, a person commits terrorist threat when he or she threatens violence against any person or property with the intention of placing that person in fear of serious bodily injury. An offense under Sec. 22.07 is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and by a fine not to exceed $2,000.

A first conviction for stalking under Sec. 42.072 is a third-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $10,000.