Last month, a Chicago man was arrested for stalking and making threatening remarks toward a former dating partner. 64-year-old William Brice was denied bail after his arrest because the court believed that he posed a serious threat to his victim.
After repeated calls, texts, and requests to marry him were rejected, Brice showed up at the victim’s home to confront her in person. She immediately filed harassment complaints against him. In light of these complaints, Brice sent her threatening messages, specifically claiming that he “would cut off her body parts and kill her.”
The victim notified police and he was arrested on charges of stalking. Stalking is a serious crime in Chicago and prosecutors will not hesitate to seek the harshest possible penalties. The best step to take following a Chicago stalking arrest is hiring an attorney.
What is Stalking?
Stalking is a broadly-defined crime in Chicago which covers a wide range of behavior. The crime, as defined in 720 ILCS 5/12-7.3, occurs when a person:
- Engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person;
- That he/she knows or should know;
- Would cause the victim to fear for their safety or suffer emotional distress.
For the purposes of stalking, engaging in a course of conduct includes “following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening, or communicating” with another person without consent. Charges for stalking can be aggravated when this behavior occurs two or more times and/or is accompanied by threats of violence or harm.
Stalking can even be done electronically. The law was amended to include electronic communications and cyberstalking as prohibited conduct. If Brice chose to send his victim threats or unwanted messages online, he could still be guilty of stalking in Chicago.
This means that stalking can include:
- Physically following another person;
- Sending threatening emails or letters;
- Making repeated unwanted phone calls; and/or
- Having another person watch and monitor your victim.
Consequences of Stalking in Chicago
Stalking is a very serious offense in Chicago. The crime, absent aggravating factors, is classified as a Class 4 Felony. In Illinois, a Class 4 Felony is punishable by 1 to 3 years in an Illinois State prison and up to $25,000 in fines. A judge presiding over a stalking case also has the discretion to impose additional penalties. These may include mandatory counseling, probation, and orders of protection.
When a person is convicted of felony stalking in Chicago they will also face additional social and civil consequences. These collateral consequences are not directly linked to the crime of stalking. Instead, these collateral consequences exist simply because they have been convicted of a crime. Collateral consequences of a stalking conviction in Chicago may include:
- Inability to secure employment in certain fields, including education, healthcare, and the government;
- Difficulty finding housing;
- Loss of gun ownership rights;
- Limits on mobility because of a restraining order; and/or
- Loss of child custody and/or visitation rights.
Defenses to Stalking
Brice will have the opportunity to assert any legal argument that can explain, justify, and/or excuse his conduct. One defense that may be particularly helpful to Brice is that of insanity. In fact, the judge presiding over his stalking case has already requested a psychiatric evaluation to determine if Brice is fit to stand trial. If the judge finds that Brice is suffering from significant emotional or mental issues, he may sentence Brice to psychiatric treatment, rather than prison.
Defenses that may also be helpful in a Chicago stalking case include:
- False accusation;
- Mistaken identity;
- Lack of intent; and
- Lack of knowledge.
Chicago Stalking Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged with stalking in Chicago contact Kostopoulos Law Group for immediate legal assistance. We will thoroughly investigate your alleged crime and fight to secure the best possible outcome in your case. The sooner we can intervene in your criminal proceedings, the better your chances of success. Call our Chicago stalking defense attorneys today to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, determine the best defense, and answer your questions.
Kostopoulos Law Group
125 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 300 A
Chicago, IL 60606