New York Federal Interstate Stalking Lawyer
As with federal charges of Kidnapping in New York, allegations of Interstate Stalking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2261A, should be taken extremely seriously as convictions carry maximum sentences ranging from five years to life imprisonment. Given the catastrophic, life altering consequences of a conviction, it is imperative that a defendant facing these charges retain a New York federal interstate stalking lawyer experienced with this complex statute.
When Does the Federal Government Have Jurisdiction Over Stalking?
Not every stalking case may be prosecuted in federal court. For jurisdiction to attach – which permits the United States Attorney’s Office to prosecute a case – the government must allege that one of the following two situations applies:
- The defendant traveled in interstate or foreign commerce – or was present in the special maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the United States – with the intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person (or place under surveillance an individual with the intent to do the same), and the defendant either: a) engaged in conduct that placed the victim, a member of his immediate family, or his spouse or intimate partner, under a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury; or b) caused or attempted to cause such person substantial emotional distress; or
- With the intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate (or place another under surveillance with the intent to do the same) the defendant used the mail system, an electronic messaging service or communication device to engage in a course of conduct that either: a) placed the victim, a member of his immediate family, or his spouse or intimate partner, under a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury; or b) caused or attempted to cause such person substantial emotional distress.
Should either of these situations apply, a range of penalties is established by 18 U.S.C. § 2261(b). For instance, if the victim died in the course of the crime, the defendant may be sentenced to up to life imprisonment; and if the victim suffered a permanent disfigurement or life threatening bodily injury, the defendant may be imprisoned for up to 20 years. If the defendant used a dangerous weapon in the course of the offense or if the victim suffered a serious bodily injury, then the defendant may be sentenced to up to 10 years imprisonment. Finally, if none of the aforementioned aggravating conditions apply, the defendant may be sentenced to up to five years imprisonment upon conviction.
Key Terms and Definitions in Federal Anti-Stalking Laws
Subsequent cases challenging federal interstate stalking laws have resulted in more specific definitions of numerous key terms that play into this particular offense. For example, a single act by a defendant is generally not considered sufficient for a conviction on stalking charges. Instead, as noted above, a “course of conduct” must be established that shows consistent stalking behavior over time.
Additionally, intent is crucial to being convicted for federal interstate stalking. Specifically, a defendant must have knowingly and intentionally stalked someone with the intent to cause them serious or fatal harm or “substantial emotional distress,” the last of which can include shame, anxiety, embarrassment, depression, or any other form of mental anguish or suffering.
How Does the State of New York Prosecute Stalking Offenses?
If an alleged act of stalking does not cross state lines, an individual might end up facing state-level charges rather than federal ones. NYPL §§120.45 through 120.60 define four degrees of stalking as a criminal offense, two of which are misdemeanors and two of which are felonies.
In New York, stalking charges can be escalated based on a number of factors, including the presence of a deadly weapon, the infliction of physical harm against a targeted individual, prior criminal history of the perpetrator, and other crimes committed in concert with stalking. An interstate stalking attorney could provide clarification about how state and federal law may interact in these types of cases.
What Are Some Possible Defenses to Federal Interstate Stalking Charges?
Since intent is essential for someone to be convicted of interstate stalking charges at the federal level, one of the cornerstones of an effective defense strategy could be proving that the defendant did not intend to cause the alleged victim any harm. Additionally, an attorney could contest the notion that the defendant’s behavior represents a consistent course of conduct, or that it reasonably constituted a threat of serious physical harm.
Depending on the circumstances, different types of evidence may be relevant to various cases, including cell phone and email records, video surveillance footage, audio recordings, and testimony from both expert witnesses and people the defendant knows. An experienced lawyer in New York could work tirelessly on a federal interstate stalking case to collect exculpatory evidence and present it in a favorable light.
Talk to a New York Federal Interstate Stalking Attorney Today
Federal prosecution can come with serious, life-changing consequences. As such if you have been charged with these serious allegations, hiring a lawyer from the Law Offices of Jeffery Lichtman may be in your nest interests. A federal interstate stalking lawyer at our office could exploit holes in the prosecution’s evidence and fight for your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.