Stalking in Arizona can be defined as when their course of conduct directed towards another knowingly or intentionally causes the stalking victim to suffer varying degrees of emotional distress or fear. This can involve the victim themselves or their family, pets, property, and significant others. The course of conduct can manifest in various forms of physical proximity or electronic communication in both direct and indirect manners. Moving forward, it’s important to understand Arizona’s felony stalking violations and penalties, as well as a few common legal defenses to stalking allegations.
ARS 13-2923 Stalking Violations and Sentencing
The Arizona State Legislature A.R.S. § 13-2923 defines Arizona stalking violations under the felony classification. The offenses follow a few different sentencing guidelines:
Class 3 felony stalking falls under the same umbrella as crimes like aggravated assault, robbery, or even some forms of sexual assault in Arizona. This level of felony offense carries a minimum sentence of two years, along with a maximum sentence of eight years. There are six classes of felonies under Arizona law and this is the third most serious felony offense.
Class 5 felony stalking is a less serious felony charge comparatively. Some examples of class 5 Arizona felonies include petty theft, vandalism, animal cruelty, or even assaulting a police officer. The minimum sentence for a class 5 felony is six months in prison and outlines a maximum sentence of thirty months in prison.
Common Defenses for Felony Stalking Charges
An informed legal defense commonly constructs case strategies for Arizona stalking charges by developing a case around one or multiple of a few key defenses:
Proving a lack of any credible threat. Death, emotional distress, and reasonable fear are assumed feelings that a defendant allegedly inflicted upon a victim to some extent. Without a credible threat, it’s impossible to attribute a stalking violation to the defendant. Therefore, proving that the threat was ambiguous in some way can be the foundation of a legitimate Arizona stalking defense.
Proving a lack of intent. This is an important aspect of a potential stalking defense because in order to be charged with a violation, the defendant must be proven to have acted with intention. While a specific action can be perceived as a threat and induce fear, the defendant could’ve done so unknowingly or without malicious intent.
Proving the activity was constitutionally protected. Stalking violations cannot be attributed to the defendant for any activities deemed constitutionally protected. For example, a key area that may become applicable would be for the constitutionally protected right to petition a governmental figure in a peaceful manner.