Relationships between boyfriends and girlfriends, domestic partners, married couples, roommates, and even members of a family can become strained, sometimes leading to accusations of domestic violence. In addition to crimes such as assault, battery, or child abuse, domestic violence charges may also include an allegation that one party has stalked the other. Of course, not every criminal charge has merit. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we understand that things sometimes get out of hand, and our Riverside and San Bernardino domestic violence attorney is are here to help you defend yourself following an arrest for stalking.
Like many crimes in California, stalking is a “wobbler” offense. This means that the attorney for the State of California may prosecute the offense as either a felony or as a misdemeanor, depending upon the circumstances. This is an important delineation, as there is a substantial difference in the punishment for these two categories of criminal activity. Under state law, those convicted of a misdemeanor crime can be sentenced to no more than 364 days imprisonment – in other words, exactly one day less than one year. With felony offenses, however, the defendant may be sentenced to several years in state prison, and for some crimes, the defendant may even be sentenced to life in prison or given the death penalty.Possible Consequences of a Stalking Conviction in California
If a defendant is convicted of felony stalking in California, he or she may have to serve as long as five years in state prison. He or she may also be fined up to $1000 and, possibly, be forced to register as a sex offender. Being convicted of a crime – any crime – can also result in difficulties finding work or housing, create issues in relationships (past and future), and cause substantial embarrassment to the defendant and his or her family. If the defendant is accused of criminal activity in the future, a stalking conviction may have a negative consequence on sentencing if the defendant is found guilty.
Because a conviction for stalking in violation of California Penal Code § 646.9 can have a very negative effect on the defendant’s life, it is important that he or she consult an attorney who can help him or her put forth a vigorous defense. Sometimes the accuser in a stalking case is seeking attention and makes a wrongful accusation as a ploy. A defendant may be misidentified. Police may exceed their authority during an arrest, thereby illegally extracting a “confession” or obtaining evidence in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. A conviction can only occur if the State of California is able to present legally admissible evidence sufficient to convince the jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant repeatedly followed or harassed the victim – and made a “credible threat” that would put a reasonable person in fear for his or her safety (or that of a family member).Discuss a Riverside or San Bernardino Stalking Charge With a Skilled Attorney
If you have been accused of stalking or another act of domestic violence, it is best to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Any statements that you make to police can – and probably will – be used against you later on in court, so it is unwise to think that you can talk your way out of a criminal prosecution. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we will listen to your side of the story and help you determine what defenses may be applicable under the circumstances. If we think the likelihood of conviction is high, we will tell you that, too. We work hard in each case to pursue dismissal, a reduction of charges, or a plea bargain regarding sentencing, depending on the facts of your situation. For an appointment to get started on your criminal defense, call us at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online. We serve defendants throughout Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Our office handles a variety of criminal defense matters, including not only domestic violence cases but also drug offenses, felony DUI, sex offenses, white collar crimes, and assault and battery.