Does Stalking Count as Domestic Violence in MN?
When people think about stalking, they imagine dark alleys and scared young women being followed by strangers, eventually leading to something terrible occurring. While that Hollywood version of stalking has probably happened somewhere at some time, most stalking crimes are very different from that.
Stalking isn’t a crime that occurs between strangers in a lot of cases. Sure, you may get cases where someone sees someone on social media and begins to stalk them. However, in many cases, the person stalking the other knows them in real life or has been involved with them in some way previously, such as in a romantic relationship.
Minnesota’s stalking laws are very tough on the crime. In many cases, stalking is also considered by the state to be a crime of domestic violence. This is why it’s important to be able to define stalking and know the consequences – because it can happen to anyone and be perpetrated by anyone, too.
Stalking: How Does Minnesota Define It?
Stalking isn’t an act that someone commits just one time. In fact, stalking is viewed as a pattern of malevolent or unwelcome behavior that involves things such as showing up unexpectedly at a person’s home/work or calling them multiple times each day.
Legally, the law in the state defines it as “engaging in conduct that is known to cause or should be known to cause distress to a victim and make them feel scared, threatened, intimidated, or oppressed – and causes this reaction no matter what the relationship may be between those involved.”
The fear that someone can experience due to the actions of a stalker can be considered domestic violence.
How Stalking Becomes an Act of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence isn’t necessarily an act, but it’s defined by a relationship to someone. When you perpetrate acts of psychological, physical, sexual, or economic violence against someone with whom you have or previously had an intimate relationship, then it’s considered an act of domestic violence. Stalking is often considered psychological violence against another person, which is why it can be classified as domestic violence in Minnesota in some cases.
Specific Stalking Laws in Minnesota
The state of Minnesota has laws that prohibit the harassment of someone by another through behavior that can cause them to feel scared, threatened, oppressed, or intimidated without regard to the relationship between the people involved – and that includes anyone with whom they’ve previously been in a relationship.
The Penalties for Stalking
Stalking can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the actions that take place during the stalking.
The biggest difference between the two is that felony stalking includes the same acts as misdemeanor stalking, with the addition of possession of a dangerous weapon, the targeting of a minor, perpetrating it while impersonating someone else, targeting someone due to the religion, race, sex, national, origin, or disability, or harassing someone within 10 years of being convicted of another crime of domestic violence.
If the court can establish that you are stalking someone, then it likely will be a felony. Acts such as terroristic threats, other stalking offenses, domestic assault, and the violation of an order of protection within the last five years will bump a stalking charge up to the felony level, which can result in five years in prison.
About the Author:
Andrew T. Poole is a Minnesota native who has served in the Army for more than 18 years and is currently a JAG lawyer in the Army Reserves in addition to serving as a partner at LaCourse, Poole & Envall. He has handled thousands of criminal and family law cases over the course of his career and has a firm belief that all hardworking Minnesotans should be entitled to the best possible legal counsel. Mr. Poole boasts a 10/10 Superb rating on Avvo, is Lead Counsel rated, and has been recognized multiple times by SuperLawyers, National Trial Lawyers, and others for his work.