Is Stalking Domestic Violence in MN?
You might imagine stalking as an act that requires someone to skulk in the shadows, obsessively watching unsuspecting victims go about their daily lives – so people have been led to believe. The truth is that stalking doesn’t always happen like you’ve seen in the movies, and stalking crimes in real life can take a very different form.
Stalking laws in Minnesota are tough on the crime. On top of being a crime itself, stalking is also considered a form of domestic violence in the state. It’s vital to understand what stalking is and how a person can be found guilty of it in a court of law, as well as the penalties that may be faced.
What Is Stalking in Minnesota?
Minnesota defines stalking as “intentionally following or harassing someone else.” The attention of the stalker is not welcomed by the victim. But what makes stalking different is that it’s normally a pattern of behavior. Actions to harass or follow the victim take place over time. Repeatedly threatening or harassing someone is stalking.
Stalking is a crime that can be perpetrated by anyone against anyone. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender, or sexual orientation are – or where you live – it’s a crime that can impact the life of anyone.
When Is Stalking Domestic Violence?
When you put someone in a state of fear through your actions, and the victim is someone you are related to or have been linked to romantically, then it can be considered an act of domestic violence. In the broadest of terms, domestic violence is a group of acts that include economic, physical, psychological, or sexual violence. When you put someone in fear for their safety through stalking, that is considered psychological violence – and, thus, domestic violence.
Stalking Laws In Minnesota
There are several laws against stalking in Minnesota. These laws prohibit the harassment of someone by another and make it illegal to engage in behavior that causes someone to feel intimidated, frightened, oppressed, or threatened.
In Minnesota, stalking can be a misdemeanor or a felony crime, depending on what acts are committed.
Stalking is usually a gross misdemeanor if the following acts are perpetrated:
- Repeated phone calls or text messages to the victim
- Injury to someone else or their property either directly or indirectly
- Sending packages, messages, letters, or even telegrams to someone, including emails
- Pursuing, monitoring, or otherwise following someone, including through technological means
- Going on to someone’s property without invitation
Stalking is raised to a felony charge if any of these acts are taken:
- Possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of the crime
- Targeting someone due to their race, national origin, age, religion, sex, disability, color, or sexual orientation
- Pursuing someone under the age of 18 when the perpetrator is at least three years older
- Impersonating the identity of another while committing the crime
- An established pattern of stalking behavior
The Penalties for Stalking
In Minnesota, those found guilty of a gross misdemeanor can face up to 12 months in jail and fines of as much as $3,000. If you are found guilty of felony stalking, then you can be sentenced to up to five years behind bars and be made to pay fines of as much as $10,000. If a pattern of stalking is established, then you can face more serious penalties, such as 10 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.
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.