A local school board member has been embroiled in controversy after a parent pointed out that the school board allowed books in the school that allegedly include sexually explicit material. Many school board meetings have included dozens of angry parents wanting to speak and condemn the school board. One of the mothers whose child brought home a book with sexually explicit material has even started filming the school board members as they walk in and out of the meetings.
In one meeting, school board members left the building, citing concerns about their safety as the parents grew angrier. One of the mothers who regularly attends the meetings and often films the school board members as they leave is surprised when she learns she has been accused of stalking by one of the school board members. She is shocked that a political disagreement with the school board has turned into criminal charges against her. She feels that the board member is trying to intimidate her into silence on an important issue involving her child’s education.
What Constitutes Stalking Under Illinois Law?
Many people assume that stalking always involves some type of domestic dispute. However, stalking charges can arise in business situations and other local situations. Stalking can involve threatening a victim with bodily harm, but it can also involve following another person from place to place without their permission. Depending on the facts in the case, stalking can be charged as a class 4 felony punishable by one to three years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000 by first-time offenders. We will discuss some defenses to stalking charges below.
Lack of Intent
To secure a conviction for stalking, the prosecution must demonstrate that the alleged stalker had an intention of causing harm to the alleged victim. In the scenario above, the prosecutors would have to prove that the mother had the intent to harm the board member. The mother could argue that she did not have the intent to harm the board member but was filming what the board member was doing for the purpose of government transparency.
If the mother had made any threats, this defense would be harder to make. The mother could contend that she was simply filming the board meeting, including before and after the meeting. She did not intend to specifically film all of the comings and goings of a particular board member.
Mistake of Fact
The defendant can argue that a mistake of fact has occurred. The alleged stalker could claim that the incident just happened at the wrong place at the wrong time. The defendant can argue that he or she was not purposefully following around the alleged victim.
Duress or Coercion
The alleged stalker may argue that he or she was forced to stalk or harass the alleged victim. Perhaps someone blackmailed the alleged stalker, saying they would hurt him if he did not stalk the alleged victim.
Contact an Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
At Glasgow & Olsson, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of success in many high-profile state and federal criminal cases. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how our legal team can fight for your rights if you have been charged with stalking in Illinois.