To the general public, the terms "stalking" and "kidnapping" indicate crimes of obsession. These offenses seem predatory in nature, and while certainly there are crimes that fit the Hollywood stereotype, most acts legally considered to be stalking or kidnapping do not involve random strangers, but rather a person to whom the victim has an actual relationship of some form.
For example, abduction by a non-custodial parent is far more common than a stranger abduction, and these children often go willingly with mommy or daddy rather than being snatched off the street.
Oklahoma laws provide specific criteria for such offenses, and a person may find himself or herself accused of stalking or harassment for actions not intended to put someone in fear for his or her safety.
Often, those accused of harassment, stalking, or kidnapping believe their actions are misunderstood. However, attempting to clear up a misunderstanding by explaining your behavior to the "victim" or police will only serve to tighten the case against you. If you are questioned about the nature of your relationship or about any alleged harassment, cease all contact with the accuser and tell police that you will not speak to them without a lawyer. Then call the Law Firm of Oklahoma to find an attorney equipped to handle your case.
Oklahoma law criminalizes the harassment of another person through the use of a phone, computer, mobile device, or any other electronic communication device including pagers and fax machines:
As a first offense, it is a misdemeanor to threaten, harass, intimidate, or make obscene phone calls. However, if a person continues to harass others through electronic means, each subsequent offense is prosecuted as a felony.
Harassment is defined as a pattern of unwanted contact "that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress, and that actually causes emotional distress to the victim." A single phone call or communication does not indicate harassment, nor would it be harassment if such an act would not ordinarily case a person to suffer emotional distress.
In 21 O.S. 1173, Oklahoma law defines stalking as follows:
upon conviction, shall be guilty of the crime of stalking, which is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one (1) year or by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.
Stalking may include physical or verbal contact, including following a person or continually appearing in places where the non-consenting party can see him or her, calling the non-consenting party, or confronting the non-consenting party on public or private property. However, it can also include contact that does not occur in-person or over the telephone. Sending emails, mailing packages, having items delivered, or leaving objects where the non-consenting party is likely to receive them is also considered stalking, if it is done so in a manner that causes the person to feel harassed, threatened, or intimidated.
A first offense of stalking is a misdemeanor, but subsequent offenses are prosecuted as felonies. Furthermore, if a person violates a Victim Protective Order (VPO), probation, or parole through continued contact and harassment, stalking is prosecuted as a felony punishable by a maximum 5 years in prison for the first offense or 10 years in prison for a subsequent offense.
Defined in 21 O.S. 741, kidnapping is the unlawful removal, restraint, or confinement of a person against his or her will. It includes not only abduction, but also holding someone hostage.
Kidnapping may be a component of human trafficking if the victim is sent against his or her will for forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sex.
Kidnapping is a felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison. The consent of the victim is not a defense if the victim is under the age of 13 or if consent is coerced through extortion or duress.
While kidnapping in general carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, abduction for extortion or ransom carries much more stringent penalties: 10 years to life in prison.
If you are a parent accused of kidnapping, you may not understand how you can be charged with a felony for trying to regain custody of your child. However, circumventing the law in order to achieve what you believe to be a rightful custody situation can land you behind bars until your children are grown.
If you are accused of harassment or stalking for trying to explain your feelings to someone, you may not believe that your actions could reasonably cause the other person fear or distress.
Regardless of the situation - whether you are wrongfully accused or whether you made a mistake in taking a last-ditch effort to right a wrong - the team of criminal lawyers at the Law Firm of Oklahoma is prepared to handle your defense. Call today or submit the online case review form for a free, confidential consultation.