Offenses Against The Person
The following is not legal advice but is for information only. Legal advice is when an attorney applies the law to a person's individual circumstances and advises them on their legal options or potential exposure to legal harm, which a web page clearly does not.
The offense of stalking involves two or more acts to harass, torment, or intimidate another person that leads to a particular result. This statute is designed protect individuals from unwanted behavior.
Under Maine law, stalking is defined as repeatedly engaging in conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person (this is called an objective standard), not just the particular individual, to feel fear, intimidation, or distress. This behavior could involve following, surveilling, monitoring, threatening, or contacting the victim through various means, including in person, by phone, email, or social media.
Firstly, it must be intentional. Someone charged must have deliberately engaged in a course of conduct directed at the alleged victim. This means that the actions were purposeful and not accidental.
The conduct must be repeated, meaning it occurs on more than one occasion. A single act is generally not considered sufficient for a stalking charge. However the behavior may be covered by another criminal statute.
There are several circumstances in which the result of the behavior leads to a criminal charge and the result is as important as the behavior itself. The person to whom the alleged stalking is directed does not have to have fear. Suffering a serious inconvenience is enough. This can include changing a telephone number or email address, having to move, changing routes to and from work, changing a routine, and so on.
The alleged victim may also have a reasonable fear of harm, intimidation, or distress as a result of the accused person's conduct. The fear or distress must be objectively reasonable, meaning that an average person in a similar situation would feel the same way. It could be fear of death or injury to a close relative, a pet, or fear of property damage.
Stalking is generally considered a class D misdemeanor offense in Maine, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 364 days (jail if less than nine months and prison if more than nine months) and/or a fine of up to $2,000. However, certain circumstances can elevate the charge to a class C felony, resulting in more severe penalties. For example, if the offender has a prior conviction for stalking or if there is a court-issued protection order in effect prohibiting the accused from contacting the victim, the charge may be elevated to a felony offense. The statute also creates a felony offense for stalking that involves an identifiable group - but what that means is not defined. There is no mandatory minimum penalty for a first offense, but there are such minimums for felony charges.
Stalking can also be charged as a domestic violence (DV) offense, which becomes more serious with prior convictions. A first offense of DV stalking would still be a misdemeanor but could be used for more serious penalties down the road if there are other DV-related charges.