Many people do not realize the severity of Mississippi’s stalking laws. You might assume that following an ex-girlfriend around or even bugging her on social media is no big deal. Although no one is actually being “hurt” in these scenarios, you may be breaking the law. Read a few news stories about stalking in Mississippi within the past few years, and you will quickly realize that people who engage in these acts run the very real risk of going to prison. But what exactly happens when you stalk people in Mississippi, and what penalties might you face if you are caught?
Examples of Stalking in Mississippi and Across the United States
The most recent example of stalking came in November of 2022. This situation involved an individual who had allegedly used a dating app to stalk a victim. According to the Oxford Police Department, they had received a complaint from a victim who walked into the department to get help from this alleged stalking. No other information was provided about the incident, although the defendant was promptly arrested and issued a $15,000 bond. This shows that modern “stalking” may not simply involve following someone down the street. It may also involve dating apps, social media, and other digital communication tools without any actual direct contact.
Back in December of 2021, it was reported that multiple members of a University of Mississippi fraternity had been arrested for cyberstalking. These individuals were apparently using social media to harass a former frat member who reported these defendants to the police for an alleged hazing incident. To get revenge against this “informant,” these individuals engaged in behavior that the university claims put “student health and safety at risk.” The victim apparently reported an earlier 2020 hazing incident that involved pledges being blindfolded and verbally assaulted in a hallway. This shows that you can be charged with stalking or cyberstalking even if your relationship with the victim is not romantic.
Other states also have their own stalking laws. On December 17, it was reported that a former Iowa Wesleyan professor had been sentenced to two years of probation and a $430 fine for stalking his ex-wife. Once again, technology was involved. This defendant placed a recording device on his ex-wife’s car, allowing him to hear all conversations that took place within the car. He then played these recordings for his daughters, who later betrayed him by taking the recording device and delivering it to law enforcement. In addition, the defendant apparently placed nails in the car’s tires and tracked the vehicle’s movements.
When Stalking Becomes Violent
Although following your ex around or recording their phone calls may not be a violent crime, stalking can quickly spiral into violent offenses under certain circumstances. For example, someone who simply wants to “keep tabs” on their ex may eventually discover proof of a new relationship. This might prompt them to take revenge, and this is one of the reasons the State of Mississippi takes this crime so seriously.
For example, in February of 2021, a woman followed her ex-boyfriend around Mississippi until she saw him meet up with a new girlfriend. This stalker then followed both individuals to Jackson and waited for the right opportunity before shooting her ex-boyfriend in the chest. In June of 2022, a man walked into an apartment in Harris County and shot his ex-girlfriend and another woman before fleeing. His ex-girlfriend survived, while the other woman did not. This individual was later arrested by police after a shootout and pursuit.
What is the Penalty for Stalking in Mississippi?
The penalty for stalking in Mississippi is up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If the following factors are present, you will be charged with aggravated stalking:
- Use or display of a deadly weapon
- Two stalking charges within seven years
- Being a registered sex offender while committing the offense
Aggravated stalking is a felony and involves a penalty of up to five years. You may also face a fine of up to $3,000.
What should an Offender do if they are being Charged with a Crime?
If you have been searching the Mississippi area for a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. Over the years, we have helped numerous offenders pursue favorable outcomes. Although being accused of a crime is not a pleasant experience, there are many potential defense strategies that can be used to defend and reduce the charges against an offender. Call/contact us today for your free consultation to learn more.
Please also see us on mississippi-lawyers.com and view our reviews on avvo.com, superlawyers.com, and martindale.com. Our email address is mississippi-lawyers.com and our office phone number is (601) 948 – 4444 option 1.