By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek
In Georgia, aggravated stalking is charged as a felony. It is set out in O.C.G.A. § 16-5-91. This statute states that an individual commits aggravated stalking when:
- He/she violates a “no contact” or “stay away” provision of their bond;
- He/she violates a temporary restraining order, temporary protective order, permanent protective order, preliminary injunction, or permanent injunction ordering them to have no contact with the alleged victim;
- He/she violates a “no contact” or “stay away” condition of their pretrial release, condition of probation, or condition of parole; and
- The individual follows, places under surveillance, or contacts the alleged victim without his/her consent for the purpose of harassing and intimidating.
In Georgia, there is no requirement that the accused has to have actual notice of the “no contact” provision as a condition of bond, pretrial release, probation/ parole, or from a temporary protective order. The contact alone is enough, even if the accused was not aware of the “no contact” order. See Revere v. State, 277 Ga. App. 393 (2006). “Contact” can also be established by phone, email, or mail. It does not need to be in-person contact in order to be sufficient to convict for aggravated stalking. See Murden v. State, 258 Ga. App. 585 (2002).
Additionally, even if the alleged victim allowed contact, or initiated contact, after the “no contact” provision was ordered, that does not mean that an accused can no longer be prosecuted for aggravated stalking. An accused can be prosecuted if the alleged victim changes his/her mind, and decides that they no longer want contact with the accused, if at the time of the contact, there is a “no contact” provision in place. See Revere v. State, 277 Ga. App. 393 (2006).
Finally, a single incident of stalking is not sufficient to convict an accused of aggravated stalking. There must be a pattern of harassing and intimidating conduct, and generally a single incident alone is not enough. See State v. Burke, 287 Ga. 377 (2010).
Any individual convicted of this crime in Clayton County will be sentenced to 1-10 years in prison, and fined up to $10,000. However, the reduced charge of aggravated stalking is characterized as a “violation of a criminal protective order.” This charge is a misdemeanor and the sentencing is much less punitive. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate sentencing to fall under the misdemeanor statute.
Due to the severity of the punishment for aggravated stalking, it is of vital importance to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know every aspect of this crime, we understand the defenses to the charge, we take pride in advocating for our clients’ constitutional rights, and we detail all options for our clients when defending their case. If you or a loved one has been charged with aggravated stalking in Clayton County, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.