What Constitutes Illegal Stalking in Kansas?
Like every other state in the union, Kansas has passed strict laws involving stalking and harassment. These laws recognize that stalking is often a precursor to even more serious offenses involving physical harm. As such, Kansas prosecutors will not hesitate to seek restraining orders and lengthy convictions for those who threaten others, put them in fear for their safety, or otherwise engage in patterns of conduct designed to cause them severe emotional and psychological distress.
In-Person, By Phone, or Online – Stalking Can Take Many Forms
The term “stalking” brings to mind images of someone following another person around or lurking outside their home or place of work in order to harass them or make them fearful for their safety. Indeed, such conduct can constitute criminal stalking in Kansas. But stalking can involve more than just physical conduct. You can be convicted of stalking for repeated and unwanted acts such as:
- Repeatedly calling someone (whether you speak with them or not)
- Continually sending texts, emails, letters or faxes
- Internet following or cyberstalking
- Hacking into a person’s computer
- Using electronic surveillance
While most stalking cases involve individuals who know each other, such as former intimate partners, anyone who engages in prohibited stalking behavior can face charges regardless of the relationship or lack thereof between themselves and the alleged victim.
Kansas Stalking Law
Kansas Statutes Section 21-5427 defines stalking as:
- Recklessly engaging in a course of conduct targeted at a specific person which would cause a reasonable person in that person’s circumstances to fear for their safety or the safety of a member of their immediate family, and the targeted person is actually placed in such fear;
- Engaging in a course of conduct targeted at a specific person with knowledge that the course of conduct will place the targeted person in fear for such person’s safety or the safety of a member of such person’s immediate family; or
- Violating a protective order that prohibits contact with a targeted person by recklessly engaging in at least one prohibited stalking act that violates the provisions of the order and would cause a reasonable person to fear for such person’s safety, or the safety of a member of such person’s immediate family and the targeted person is actually placed in such fear.
“Course of Conduct” Required
An isolated act, a one-time call, email, or other communication which may cause another person to fear for their safety likely would not constitute stalking. But engaging in two or more of any of the acts described below over a period of time, however short, which evidence a continuity of purpose will constitute a “course of conduct” sufficient to obtain a stalking conviction.
The acts which can be the basis of such a course of conduct include, but are not limited to:
- Threatening the safety of the targeted person or a member of such person’s immediate family;
- Following, approaching or confronting the targeted person or a member of such person’s immediate family;
- Appearing in close proximity to, or entering the targeted person’s residence, place of employment, school or other place where such person can be found, or the residence, place of employment or school of a member of such person’s immediate family;
- Causing damage to the targeted person’s residence or property or that of a member of such person’s immediate family;
- Placing an object on the targeted person’s property or the property of a member of such person’s immediate family, either directly or through a third person;
- Causing injury to the targeted person’s pet or a pet belonging to a member of such person’s immediate family;
Depending on the circumstances of the stalking and whether this is a first or subsequent conviction, stalking can be charged and punished as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Even the lowest level stalking offense can still result in significant jail time, however, making it imperative that you retain an experienced Kansas criminal defense lawyer if prosecutors have charged you with criminal stalking of any kind.
Johnson County criminal defense attorney Jerry Merrill can help you contest stalking charges and give you the best chance of securing a positive outcome. Schedule your free initial consultation today to discuss your rights and legal options. Contact the firm online or call 913-381-2085.