Georgia Criminal Law: Stalking and Aggravated Stalking

Statutory Law

O.C.G.A. § 16-5-90(a) provides that “[a] person commits the offense of stalking when he or she follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person.”

“Contact,” has been broadly defined as, “any communication including without being limited to communication in person, by telephone, by mail, by broadcast, by computer, by computer network, or by any other electronic device; and the place or places that contact by telephone, mail, broadcast, computer, computer network, or any other electronic device is deemed to occur shall be the place or places where such communication is received.”  

Furthermore, “harassing and intimidating,” is defined as, “a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes emotional distress by placing such person in reasonable fear for such person’s safety or the safety of a member of his or her immediate family, by establishing a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior, and which serves no legitimate purpose. 

A person who commits the offense of stalking is guilty of a misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and $1,000 fine or both). If convicted of stalking a second time (or any subsequent conviction) the person will be punished as a felony and can be sentenced to at least one year in jail and no more than ten years in jail.

A person who commits the offense of stalking (as defined above) in violation of a bond to keep the peace posted pursuant to Code Section 17-6-110, temporary restraining order, temporary protective order, permanent restraining order, permanent protective order, preliminary injunction, good behavior bond, or permanent injunction or condition of pretrial release, condition of probation, or condition of parole in effect prohibiting the behavior described in this subsection is guilty of aggravated stalking.

Aggravated stalking is a felony punishable by imprisonment no less than one year, but no more than ten years and a fine not greater than $10,000.

Case Examples

In, Wright v. State, 292 Ga. App. 673, 665 S.E.2d 374. (2008), the evidence in this case was insufficient to support an aggravated stalking conviction. The defendant and the “victim” had a lengthy on-and-off relationship. The incident in question did not involve “a pattern of intimidating and harassing behavior that placed the woman in reasonable fear for her safety.” OCGA § 16-5-90(a)(1).

Similarly, in Autry v. State, 306 Ga. App. 125, 701 S.E.2d 596 (2010), the defendant was charged with stalking. The evidence showed that he was parked in a parking lot and watched a woman enter and then exit a store. He then followed her to another store, where she entered and exited. He then followed her briefly, but drove in a different direction eventually. This evidence did not suffice to sustain a stalking prosecution. The conduct did not amount to a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior.

In a juvenile case, a police officer and the juvenile had a previous run-in. The juvenile, a passenger in a pick-up, was seen pulling into the officer’s driveway, waiting a few minutes and then leaving. This evidence did not support a stalking conviction. In re C.C., 280 Ga. App. 590, 634 S.E.2d 532 (2006).

In, Bradley v. State, 252 Ga. App. 293, 556 S.E.2d 201(2001), the defendant threatened the victim and was arrested. A restraining order was entered barring him from contacting the victim again. Subsequently, the defendant and the victim ignored the restraining order and contacted each other. Later, the victim called the police and complained that the defendant was at the apartment and threatened her. The defendant’s conviction for aggravated stalking was affirmed. The fact that the parties ignored the restraining order for a period of time did not vitiate the order or immunize the defendant from prosecution for violating the order. The violation of the restraining order was a “public wrong” that may not be condoned by the victim.

A person may commit the offense of aggravated stalking even if the victim is not aware of the defendant’s actions. In this case, in violation of the defendant’s bond order, he went to the victim’s house and looked in the garage. The victim was not aware that he had done so. Nevertheless, this conduct amounted to aggravated stalking. Jagat v. State, 240 Ga. App. 822, 525 S.E.2d 388 (1999).

In, Jerusheba v. State, 226 Ga. App. 696, 487 S.E.2d 465 (1997), the defendant’s conduct was sufficient to convict the defendant of stalking where the defendant sent numerous letters to the victim that were lurid, detailed and graphic descriptions of his sexual aspirations concerning the victim, with whom he had no prior relationship of any substance (they saw each other on the bus, occasionally).

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been arrested for stalking, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 today for a free case evaluation. You’ll find a local Atlanta attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed information about Atlanta laws here