This is the next post in our series discussing harassment or stalking charges in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our last article provided an overview of the topics to be discussed throughout this series. We also emphasized the importance of hiring an attorney with criminal defense experience to represent your interests in such matters. Doing so will help ensure that your case is handled properly and that all possible defense strategies are employed on your behalf. In this post, we will discuss the legal definitions of stalking and harassment and the penalties for each under Arkansas law. If you need assistance, contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
Harassment and stalking are serious Arkansas criminal offenses with significant potential penalties
Arkansas law defines harassment as engaging in the following conduct with the purpose to harass, annoy, or alarm another person without good cause:
- Threatening to or actually striking, shoving, kicking, or otherwise touching a person, or subjecting them to offensive physical contact
- Directing obscene comments or gestures to another in public for the purpose of provoking a violent or disorderly response
- Following a person in or about a public place
- Repeatedly insulting, taunting, or challenging a person in public in a way likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response
- Engaging in conduct or repeatedly committing an act that alarms or seriously annoys another person and that serves no legitimate purpose, or
- Placing a person under surveillance by remaining outside their school, work, vehicle, or home for no purpose other than to harass, alarm, or annoy them.
In addition to the activities listed above, it is also a crime in Arkansas, to engage in harassing behavior using electronic devices, such as computers or cell phones. The law prohibits activities like social media harassment or making prank phone calls. Furthermore, Arkansas law specifically prohibits cyberbullying, defined as communicating by electronic means to frighten, coerce, intimidate, threaten, abuse, or harass another person. Harassment is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.
Stalking is a more serious offense than harassment and is separated into three categories under Arkansas law. Third-degree stalking, the least serious of the three, occurs when an individual knowingly commits an act that places the victim in a position of emotional distress and fear for their safety or the safety of others. Examples may include anonymous threats through the mail or following someone for long periods of time to spy on them. Like harassment, third-degree stalking is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. Second-degree stalking requires the accused to have engaged in a course of conduct of harassment and threatening another for the purposes of putting them in imminent fear of death or serious bodily injury for themself or their family members. This offense is a Class D felony and is punishable by up to six years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000. The most serious of the three offenses is first-degree stalking. This occurs when a person who is currently under an order of protection, who has been convicted of second-degree stalking previously, or used or represented that they were using a weapon during the offense, commits second-degree stalking. First-degree stalking is a Class C felony, punishable by jail time of between three and ten years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Little Rock defendants should immediately contact a lawyer if they have been charged with stalking or harassment
A conviction for stalking or harassment will result in a permanent criminal record. Those charged with felony offenses will lose other liberties, such as the right to possess a firearm in the future. They may also find it difficult to pass background checks for housing, employment, credit, etc. It is imperative, therefore, to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you have been accused or arrested. We will act quickly to expose any false allegations and identify all potential defense strategies on your behalf. We take pride in vigorously representing our clients’ interests. If you need assistance, contact us today to speak to a lawyer. In addition to Little Rock, we also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.