Stalking, South Carolina
Shaun Kent has been practicing law in the state of South Carolina for 20 years. He’s defended clients facing stalking charges, and understands how to put together a defense to beat these charges.
You face some harsh penalties for harassment or stalking if found guilty in South Carolina. Particularly for repeat offenses and stalking which can be felonies. This is why it’s important you have an experienced lawyer fighting to protect your rights.
If you’ve been charged with stalking or any other crime relating to harassment, call the office of Shaun Kent today. Shaun and his team will start putting their expertise and experience to work building a strong defense for your case.
How Stalking Is Classified Under South Carolina Law
Stalking comes under ‘Harassment and Stalking’ Article 17 Section 16-3-1700 of the South Carolina Legislature.
There are several degrees of harassment, and stalking has separate criteria. The charges filed will depend on the circumstances and severity of an individual case.
Here’s a look at the common harassment and stalking charges you face in SC:
First Degree Harassment
First-degree harassment is defined as a ‘pattern of intentional, substantial, and unreasonable intrusion into the private life of a targeted person causing mental or emotional distress’.
This includes following the victim from location to location, initiating physical or visual contact, or carrying out surveillance of some kind on the victim.
Second Degree Harassment
Second-degree harassment involves the same amount of mental or emotional distress. The differences are in the patterns of behavior and actions of the accused.
This may include but is not limited to electronic, written, or verbal contact that is initiated, repeated and maintained against the victim.
Under South Carolina legislation, stalking is defined as a ‘pattern of words, whether verbal, written, or electronic, or a pattern of conduct that serves no legitimate purpose and is intended to cause fear.’
This means that the victim has to prove they are in fear of one or more of the following:
- Their life is in danger
- They are in fear of personal injury
- They are in fear of injury to members of their family or close friends
- That they believe they are at risk of being kidnapped
- Of damage to personal property
What To Do if You're Accused of Stalking
If you’ve been accused or charged with harassment or stalking, it’s important you act accordingly from the moment you first hear you’re being accused or charged.
First of all, it’s essential to your case that you do not under any circumstances try to communicate with the alleged victim. No matter if you feel the charges are unjust or you’ve done nothing wrong.
This includes text message, calling, using social media, even asking someone else to contact them on your behalf. Any attempt to communicate with them will only add to your charges and the evidence they have against you.
You should not speak with law enforcement either. Do not say anything more than confirming your name if asked and acknowledging your Miranda rights.
You should always seek legal representation before you do anything or speak with anyone. Our lawyers will advise you of exactly what you can and should do or say if you call our offices.
This is important because speaking to the alleged victim or law enforcement can seriously harm your defense and will be used against you should you go to trial.
Punishments for Harassment and Stalking Charges in South Carolina
Punishments are harsh if you’re found guilty of harassment or stalking in South Carolina. The penalties escalate quickly for repeat offenders and special circumstances.
In most cases, harassment is charged as a misdemeanor, and stalking is charged as a felony. Here is a look at the penalties for first and second-degree harassment and stalking:
Punishments First Degree Harassment
- For a first offense, you face up to 3 years in jail, and fines of up to $1,000.
- If you’ve violated a restraining order, you could face fines of up to $2,000.
- If you have prior convictions or special circumstances, you could face up to 5 years in jail and fines of up to $5,000.
Punishments Second Degree Harassment
- For a first offense, you face up to 30 days in jail and fines of up to $200.
- If you have prior convictions, you could face up to 1 year in prison and fines of up to $1,000.
Punishments For Stalking
- For a first offense, you face up to 5 years in jail and fines of up to $5,000.
- If you’ve violated a restraining order, penalties increase up to 7 years in jail and $7,000 in fines.
- If you have prior convictions or special circumstances, you could face up to 15 years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
As you can see from the above penalties, you face some serious jail time and large fines if found guilty of harassment or stalking. It’s vital to the outcome of your case that you work with an experienced lawyer as soon as you can.
Call Our Law Firm Today for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one have been accused of harassing or stalking someone, you have to take these accusations seriously.
It’s also important to recognize that time is working against you. Stalking defenses can take some time to put together, so you should reach out to a lawyer as soon as you’ve been charged.
Keep in mind that it’s not just the financial penalties and jail time you’re facing. Having a criminal record will affect you for the rest of your life.
We fight aggressively for the rights of every client we represent. Call our law office at (803) 433-5368 to schedule your free consultation.