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Stalking

Under Title 76 of Utah's Criminal Code, Chapter 5 deals with offenses against person. Section 106.5 provides for certain criminal punishments andstalking.Stalking can come with serious consequences, depending on the severity of the situation and any prior incidents of stalking by the defendant. If convicted, the defendant may also find themselves subject to public opinion or out of consideration of certain employment opportunities as an unintended consequence.

Salt Lake City Stalking Defense Attorney

Given what is at stake, it's important for you to carefully weigh all of your options following an arrest for stalking. Exercise your power to speak with an attorney as soon as you can. This can help you avoid self-incrimination and ensure that the investigators are correctly following protocol. It can also help you build an early defense and gather any time-sensitive evidence or witness testimony.

Darren M. Levitt is a Salt Lake City domestic violence defense attorney dedicated to helping men and women combat allegations of stalking. He fights hard for a favorable outcome, whether his client faces a misdemeanor or felony stalking offense. Call 801-455-1743 or send an online message to speak with Darren M. Levitt during a free, no-obligation consultation. During your initial consultation, you will learn about the charges you face and the best steps to take in order to regain your freedom.


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Utah Stalking Information Center


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Definitions under Utah's Stalking Statute

Under Utah's stalking statute, the term "stalking" is defined in one of two ways. Under the first, which is provided in subsection 2, the prosecutor can attempt to prove stalking by proving the following elements beyond all reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant intentionally or knowingly engaged in a course of conduct directed at a specific person and knows or should know that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to:
    • suffer other emotional distress; or
    • fear for the alleged victim's own safety or the safety of a third person.

Alternatively, under the second theory of proving stalking as provided in subsection 3, the prosecutor can attempt to prove stalking by proving the following elements beyond all reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant intentionally or knowingly violates either a stalking injunction issued pursuant to Title 77, Chapter 3a, Stalking Injunctions; or a permanent criminal stalking injunction issued pursuant to this section.

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Penalties and Punishments under Utah's Stalking Statute

Class A Misdemeanor Stalking - The offense of stalking is a Class A misdemeanor if the defendant is convicted of a first offense of Subsection (2) or if the defendant is convicted of violating a stalking injunction issued pursuant to Title 77, Chapter 3a, Stalking Injunctions.

Third Degree Stalking under Utah Law - Stalking is a third degree felony if the offender has:

  • previously been convicted of an offense of stalking; or
  • has been previously convicted in a State other than Utah of an offense that is substantially similar to the offense of stalking; or
  • has been previously convicted of any felony offense in the State of Utah or of any crime in another jurisdiction which if committed in Utah would be a felony, in which the victim of the stalking offense or a member of the victim's immediate family was also a victim of the previous felony offense;
    (d) violated a permanent criminal stalking injunction issued pursuant to Subsection (9); or
    (e) has been or is at the time of the offense a cohabitant, as defined in Section78B-7-102, of the victim.

Stalking is a second degree felony if the accused:

  • used a dangerous weapon as defined in Section 76-1-601 or used other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury, in the commission of the crime of stalking;
  • has been previously convicted two or more times of the offense of stalking;
  • has been convicted two or more times in another jurisdiction or jurisdictions of offenses that are substantially similar to the offense of stalking;
  • has been convicted two or more times, in any combination, of offenses under Subsection (7)(a), (b), or (c);
  • has been previously convicted two or more times of felony offenses in Utah or of crimes in another jurisdiction or jurisdictions which, if committed in Utah, would be felonies, in which the victim of the stalking was also a victim of the previous felony offenses; or
  • has been previously convicted of an offense under Subsection (7)(d), (e), or (f).

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Other Definitions under Utah's Stalking Statute

Course of Conduct - Under Utah's stalking statute, the term "course of conduct" is defined as two or more acts directed towards or at a specific person, including:

  • when the defendant engages in any of the following acts or causes someone else to engage in any of these acts:
    • confronts or approaches the alleged victim;
    • uses any electronic means such as the internet, a computer, text messaging to commit an act that is part of the course of conduct;
    • places an object on or delivers an object to property owned, leased, or occupied by the alleged victim or his or her place of employment with the intent that the object be delivered to the alleged victim;
    • goes to the alleged victim's residence or contacts the neighbors, or enters property leased, owned, or occupied by the alleged victim; goes to the alleged victim's workplace or contacts the alleged victim's coworkers or employer; or
    • sends material by any means to the alleged victim for the purpose of obtaining or disseminating information about or communicating with the alleged victim to a member of the family or household, employer, coworker, friend, or associate of the alleged victim.
  • acts in which the defendant threatens, monitors, photographs, surveils, follows, observes, or communicates to or about the alleged victim or interferes with the alleged victim's property:
    • by any method, action, device, or means; and
    • directly, indirectly, or through any third party.

Conviction- Under Utah's stalking statute, the term "conviction" is defined as one of the following:

  • a plea of no contest;
  • a plea of guilty or guilty and mentally ill;
  • a verdict or conviction; or
  • the acceptance by the court of a plea in abeyance.

Emotional Distress- Under Utah's stalking statute, the term "emotional distress" is defined as significant psychological or mental suffering, whether or not medical or other professional treatment or counseling is required.

Immediate Family- Under Utah's stalking statute, the term "immediate family" is defined as means a parent, child, spouse or any other person who regularly resides in the household or who regularly resided in the household within the prior six months.

Text Messaging- Under Utah's stalking statue, the term "text messaging" is defined as a communication in the form of electronic text or one or more electronic images sent by the actor from a telephone or computer to another person's telephone or computer by addressing the communication to the recipient's telephone number.

Reasonable Person- Under Utah's stalking statute, the term "reasonable person" is defined as a reasonable person in the alleged victim's circumstances.


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Invalid Defenses to Stalking

Under Utah's stalking statute, it is not a defense to a prosecution that the defendant was not given actual notice that the course of conduct was unwanted (or that there was a lack of intent to cause fear). Additionally, it is not a defense under Utah's stalking statute that the defendant did not intend to cause the victim fear or other emotional distress.


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Jurisdiction to Prosecute a Stalking Offense under Utah Law

An offense of stalking may be prosecuted in Utah in the county in which one or more of the acts that is part of the course of conduct was initiated or caused an effect on the alleged victim. In other words, if the defendant is accused of contacting the alleged victim by contacting her at her home in Salt Lake County, and also contacted her at her place of business in Summit County, then a prosecution for stalking might take place in either county.

In some cases, jurisdictional challenges should be raised in those cases in which not all of the acts occurred in the county where the crime is being prosecuted.


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Stalking Injunctions in Utah

The court may grant an injunction against the stalking that sets certain rules into place limiting interaction between the defendant and alleged victim.  The permanent stalking injunction is issued without a hearing by the court, unless one is requested by the defendant at the time of conviction. The hearing about the injunction is generally held at the time of conviction.

A permanent stalking injunction is an order that prohibits the defendant from entering the victim's residence, property, school, or place of employment. It also requires the defendant to stay away from the victim and members of the victim's immediate household or family, in addition to specific locations named in the order that is frequented by the victim.

The injunction order may also restrain the defendant from making contact with or regarding the victim (personally or through a 3rd party) to initiate communication that would alarm or any the victim. This also includes written, electronic, or personal communication regarding the victim with the victim's employers, employees, coworkers, associates, friends, or other individuals with whom communication would cause the victim annoyance or alarm.

Violation of stalking injunction is considered a third degree felony offense, which can be enforced through both civil and criminal courts. These permanent injunctions may only be dismissed or dissolved by the victim's application to the court which originally granted the injunction.


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Levitt Legal, PLLC | Stalking Defense Lawyer in Utah

A stalking conviction can have far reaching effects on your life, aside from immediate penalties. It can potentially alter perceptions against you at your place of employment or within the community. For some, these consequences alone can make conviction unimaginable. Call 801-455-1743 today to learn how defense attorney Darren M. Levitt can help combat your stalking allegations and potential conviction.

Levitt Legal - Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah
266 East 500 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
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