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High court upholds stalking conviction

March 21, 2012

It’s up to a trier of fact to determine if someone’s conduct involved repeated or continuing harassment to qualify as stalking, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled, since there is no statutorily determinate timeframe required for this type of conviction.

The majority affirmed Rodney Nicholson’s stalking conviction relating to a woman and her daughters. Nicholson repeatedly called the woman’s house in 2006 over a six-month period, breathing heavily and discussing masturbation. He would hang up if the woman’s husband got on the phone. Nicholson was convicted of voyeurism after he was found outside the victims’ home and arrested. For the time he was incarcerated, the calls stopped. He made another call on Nov. 1, 2008.

Nicholson appealed his stalking conviction, which a split Court of Appeals reversed, citing the time between the harassing phone calls. Justice Frank Sullivan agreed with the COA’s decision, but the rest of the justices upheld Nicholson’s conviction.

Justice Steven David noted that Indiana statute doesn’t define the timeframe for a stalking conviction, and it could happen over a matter of minutes or years. The trier of fact should determine if the course of conduct involves repeated or continuing harassment, he wrote.

In addition to meeting the time prong of the stalking statute, the state proved that the victim felt terrorized, frightened, intimidated or threatened.

“Had Nicholson not been incarcerated between 2006 and 2008, our analysis may have been different. However, it appears the main reason the stalking of the victims took a break was Nicholson’s incarceration. Because of this, we hold Nicholson engaged in a knowing course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of the wife,” David wrote in Rodney Nicholson v. State of Indiana, No. 55S01-1107-CR-444.

 

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