STALKING, HARASSMENT, AND THREATENING VIOLENCE
Some states divide crimes into categories including “crimes against property” and “crimes against the person.” In Oklahoma, crimes against the person typically involve violent crimes such as assault and battery, sex crimes, or robbery. However, putting a person in fear of danger, even if one does not actually intend to carry through with violence, can lead to serious criminal charges as well.
Stalking, harassment, and threatening an act of violence are all crimes that may be charged as felonies, and as such, can carry harsh penalties, including up to 10 years in prison for repeat offenses.
Threatening, intimidating, or harassing another person is generally charged under one or more of the following statutes:
- Obscenity, Threats, or Harassment by Telephone or Other Electronic Communication (21 O.S. § 1172)
- Stalking (21 O.S. § 1173)
- Threatening a Violent Act (21 O.S. § 1378)
In most cases, the above crimes are a misdemeanor on the first offense, but a felony upon second or subsequent convictions.
Obscenity, Threats, or Harassment by Telephone
Under Oklahoma law, it is illegal to threaten, harass, or make unwanted lewd or lascivious comments by telephone, text, email, or other electronic communication. The following acts are specifically prohibited according to § 1172:
- Making obscene comments or lewd suggestions
- Making comments intended to threaten, intimidate, harass, or put someone in fear of danger
- Making any electronic communication intended to put someone in fear of physical harm or death
- Making an anonymous phone call or electronic communication intended to “annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass” another person
- Allowing your phone or electronic device to be used for any of the above purposes
- Conspiring with others to make repeated phone calls or electronic communications intended to harass
A first offense, as a misdemeanor, carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail, but second offense is a felony.
Stalking occurs when a person “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly” follows or harasses a person in a manner that would cause a “reasonable person” to feel “frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.”
Stalking, in general, is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in jail. However, if a person is convicted of stalking in violation of a protective order, while on probation for a related offense, or within 10 years of a prior offense, the penalties are more severe. In these cases, stalking is a felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison.
Learn more about Victim’s Protective Orders and VPO violation here.
Planning or Threatening a Violent Act
Stalking and harassment typically involve systematic or repeated incidents. A person can be arrested for threatening violence even if there is no pattern of harassment. A single threat of violence—even if the suspect has no intent of actually harming another—is enough for a charge of threatening a violent act.
Threatening to perform an act of violence intended to involve seriously bodily harm is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 6 months in jail.
However, if a person actually plans, conspires, or attempts to commit an act of violence intended to inflict serious bodily harm, it is a felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Stalking Defense in Oklahoma
If you are accused of stalking, harassment, or threatening violence, contact an attorney to discuss your best defense options. In stalking cases, the prosecution must prove several elements in order to obtain a conviction, including intent to harass, violation of a protective order, and/or committing acts that would cause reasonable fear of harm. An experienced defense lawyer can challenge these elements, fighting to get a dismissal or acquittal of the charges.
To learn more or schedule a free evaluation of your case, call Oklahoma attorney Ryan Coventon at (405) 417-3842.