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A Criminal Defense Law Firm

Aggravated Stalking

Stalking usually requires some proof that a defendant repeatedly followed, harassed, or communicated with a victim in a way that caused the victim substantial emotional distress. Aggravated stalking requires this same stalking proof plus some other aggravating act or circumstance. This usually means contacting another person in violation of a Restraining Order. There must be a threat is this communication, but the threat could be implied. Simply violating a restraining order by contacting the protected person is only a misdemeanor.   The main case in this area of the law is Johnson v. State, 264 Ga. 590 (1994).  The Johnson case held that the term “harassing and intimidating” is means to knowingly and willfully engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes emotional distress by placing such person in reasonable fear of death or bodily harm to himself or herself or to a member of his or her immediate family, and which serves no legitimate purpose.

In our experience, we have found that most “Aggravated Stalking” charges can often be reduced or dismissed because the contact is often not a threat of violence, but just communication. Another common defense arises when a “victim” of Aggravated Stalking violates the no contact order.  Judges take these cases very seriously, and that goes both ways—both to the alleged victim and to the defendant.  If a person who gets a TPO themselves violates the TPO, a judge will have very little sympathy for that person.  Prosecutors too find that a “victim” who plays fast and loose with a restraining order, picking and choosing when to claim and disregard its protections, is not worthy of the Courts protection.

Obtaining a bond quickly for a person charged with Aggravated Stalking is often the most difficult part of the defense because only a Superior Court Judge can grant the bond request. Our strategy in these situations is to quickly and simultaneously pursue every possible option for bond, including contacting the victim or witnesses to collect affidavits, filling a Motion for Bond, and working with State Prosecutors for a consent bond. Our efforts usually pay off with a quick bond.