You have developed a crush on someone you work with, and like many shy but hopeful romantics, you set out to learn as much as you can about her. You might have even found out where she lived. Now you have been accused of stalking, and you worry about the potential legal and employment consequences. What are the laws on stalking in Wisconsin?
The definition of stalking can be vague and confusing. You might have been doing something completely harmless, but your co-worker was uninterested and saw it as stalking. Or, you may have unintentionally crossed a line with your actions. It is important to understand the common behaviors surrounding stalking, so you do not face long-lasting consequences.
What is stalking?
Stalking involves numerous types of unwanted, unreciprocated behaviors that can make the target feel pursued, harassed and afraid for his or her safety. Stalking can involve the person you find attractive who does not know you very well. The behavior also often applies to those in a former relationship who have broken up or were in domestic violence situations. For example, a man who is having trouble getting over his ex-girlfriend might text and call her at all hours, including at work. Or, after their divorce, a woman with a history of violent attacks on her husband might key his car, throw a rock through his apartment window and threaten to harm him or his pets.
Are there criminal consequences for a stalking conviction?
In Wisconsin, you could face a felony charge for stalking. The penalties are more severe if the alleged stalker gathered information about his or her target electronically or if the target was a minor. Charges are also more serious for a subsequent stalking conviction within seven years against the same victim.
Relationships can be difficult, especially if you are trying to establish a connection or move on after a breakup. If someone has accused you of stalking, the law entitles you to a competent defense.