According to a U.S. Department of Justice study in 2009, 3.3 million people ages 18 or older were stalked in United States during a 1-year time span. Even more shocking, 76% of abused women who are murdered by their abuser were stalked by that abuser before the murder took place. The issue of stalking is not one to take lightly. If you are a victim of stalking, you must first and foremost take measures to protect yourself by contacting the police and/or hiring an attorney. Due to January being national stalking awareness month, we encourage those who fear being victimized by a stalker to consider their options in terms of protection. Many times victims are unaware that the harassment they are experiencing can legally be defined as stalking, and is classified in the State of Illinois as a class 4 felony. For more information on what can legally be defined as “stalking,” in the State of Illinois, please see the Illinois Compiled Statutes, 720 ILCS 5/12-7.3. If you are living with the threat of a stalker looming over your life, the following steps can be taken with the assistance of an attorney to ensure your safety:
Show a pattern of behavior. As defined by Illinois law, stalking is exercised through a “course of conduct.” A pattern of behavior must be established by the stalker that causes you to be monitored, followed, surveiled, harassed, threatened, contacted, or communicated with or about in any way without your consent. A course of conduct can be defined by two or more acts of stalking behavior.
Show a credible threat to your safety or emotional state. In order for a person’s actions to be classified as stalking, they must be threatening in nature towards your safety, or cause any form of emotional distress. Emotional distress is defined by Illinois law as any “significant mental suffering, anxiety, or alarm.”
Request a Stalking No Contact Order. Illinois citizens have a right to petition for a Stalking No Contact Order. Under this order, a judge can protect a victim of stalking by prohibiting further contact and stalking, prohibiting the stalker from owning a gun, forcing the stalker to stay away from certain locations, and many other actions necessary to protect victims from their stalker. Under a Stalking No Contact Order, stalkers will be charged with a class A misdemeanor upon their first offense of the order. A second violation is considered a class 4 felony. Taking advantage of an attorney’s services would be in the best interest of those seeking to obtain such a court order.
For more information on your options as a victim of stalking, feel free to contact the Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.