Stalking interpretations

July 15, 2008
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Is standing on a public street, staring at someone’s house considered taboo and possibly enough for a felony stalking charge? Does the answer change if it happens more than once, say four times, and that the person being watched feels fearful or panicked even though no physical contact, phone calls, or interaction has actually happened?



The Court of Appeals says no. A first impression ruling today tosses out a felony stalking conviction for a Terre Haute man who was accused, tried, and convicted by a jury, of parking on a city street four times and watching the house of a man he’d met casually as a customer at a radio services business. At issue was the man’s conduct and the interplay between it being “harassment” or “impermissible” because he had no notice – say a protective order against him – that it was causing a problem,. The court debated the line between a person’s constitutional right to park on a public street and someone’s feeling of security as it relates to harassment; Judges Terry Crone and Michael Barnes leaned toward safeguarding the accused’s due process rights, while Judge Cale Bradford dissented, opting to leave it up to a jury to discern the difference between “stalking” and lawful activity.



Where does that line exist, and what’s the impact of this new ruling?



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