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

Stalking in Georgia

If you have been arrested for stalking in Georgia, it is imperative that you fight your case. It is a serious crime in Georgia.

What is stalking?

Stalking is when you follow, place under surveillance, or contact another person at or about a place without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person; OR if you are in violation of a bond, order of the court, or condition of pretrial release, probation, or parole that prohibits the harassment or intimidation of another person, broadcasts or publishes without the person’s consent in such a manner that causes other persons to harass or intimidate that person and the person making the broadcast or publication knew or had reason to know that such act would cause the person to be harassed or intimidated by others. O.C.G.A. 16-5-90(a).

Aggravated Stalking

Aggravated Stalking is when in violation of a bond, order of the court, condition of pretrial release, probation, or parole in effect prohibiting the behavior described herein, follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place without the consent of the person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person.

What are the elements of Aggravated Stalking:

  1. The defendant violated an order.
  2. This order prohibited contact with the victim.
  3. It was done without the victim’s consent
  4. The purpose was to harass or intimidate.

If # 4 is not met, then it is criminal contempt under O.C.G.A. 15-6-8(5).

Keep in mind, that proof of a written no contact order is not required. But there needs to be proof that the instruction was given and received by the defendant.

How do you define “contact” with the victim?

Contact is any communication, whether in person, by phone, by text, email , social media etc….

Where does the Stalking take place?

It includes any public or private property occupied by the victim, excluding the defendant’s residence, where the communication is received.

What is meant by Harassing and Intimidating Contact?

  • A knowing and willful course of conduct directed specifically at the victim.
  • The victim suffers emotional distress by placing such person in reasonable fear of their safety
  • Establish a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior. (There has to be more than 1 contact)
  • There is no legitimate purpose to this contact.

What does the Court look for in determining whether the contact is harassing and intimidating?

  1. The prior history between the defendant and victim.
  2. Whether the contact is overly confrontational
  3. Any attempts by the defendant to contact, communicate, or control the victim through another party.

The behavior of the defendant does not have to include threats of death or bodily harm. The defendant does not even have to make overt threats to the victim in a Stalking case.

What is NOT Stalking?

Georgia law does not prohibit a person from contacting or communicating with another person without consent, if the contact is not done with a harassing or intimidating purpose.

What am I facing if I am convicted of Stalking or Aggravated Stalking?

  1. Stalking:
    1. The first conviction for stalking is a Misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a $1,000 fine
    1. A second conviction for Stalking is a felony and carries up to 1 to 10 years in prison.
  2. Aggravated Stalking
    1. Aggravated Stalking carries up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

If you are charged with Stalking or Aggravated Stalking, it is important to get a lawyer as there are defenses to your case. A Stalking conviction on your record can carry many collateral consequences in addition to the punishment imposed by the court.

Call us at 404-581-0999 or visit us at www.peachstatelawyer.com for a free consultation.