The crime of stalking in Mississippi is found in the Mississippi Code 97-3-107. Stalking is when someone purposefully engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, or who makes a credible threat, and who knows or should know that the conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her own safety, to fear for the safety of another person, or to fear damage or destruction of his or her property.
Stalking is a misdemeanor punishable up to a year in the county jail and/or a $1,000 fine. However stalking when there is a restraining order in effect carries a $1,500 fine.
There is also the crime of aggravated stalking. This is when stalking is committed using a deadly weapon with the intent to place the victim (or another person) in fear of death or great bodily injury; or the accused has previously been convicted of stalking in the past seven years; or the accused was a sex offender and the victim was under 18.
Aggravated stalking is a felony punishable up to five years (six years for sex offenders). There is also a $3,000 fine ($4,000 for sex offenders).
If you’ve been charged with stalking in Mississippi, you need to understand the penalties. Not only is there potential jail time and fines, but a permanent conviction can mean the loss of your job and difficulty in finding a new one. Furthermore, under federal law a stalker cannot possess any firearms.
How do you avoid a conviction? You should first talk to a Mississippi attorney who defends stalking charges. A misdemeanor stalking charge can be expunged, and your lawyer may be able to have the charge nonadjudicated. Nonadjudication is basically a type of supervised or unsupervised probation where the charge is later dismissed or retired, and you can then have it cleared from your record.
Not everyone qualifies for this. You generally have to be a first-time offender, and it helps if the victim does not want to prosecute. You other option to try and keep it off your record would be to go to trial. Here the state must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and you also get to attack the victim’s credibility. But trials are expensive, stressful, and drawn out. If you have the chance to resolve the case early on without a permanent conviction, you should consider it.
Patrick Stegall is a Southaven criminal attorney who handles stalking and other crimes. If you want to keep your charge off your record, talk to Mr. Stegall to see what options you have. He can be reached at (901) 205-9894 or firstname.lastname@example.org.