How to Deal With Stalking—Texas Penal Code

If you’re a female person, the odds are that you’ve experienced what it means to be harassed at least once in your lifetime. Whether you’re at work, in your home, at the gym, on the street, or are simply trying to surf the Internet in peace, a small part of you is probably on alert for harassment.

If repeated, harassment can also qualify as stalking, a type of abuse that can happen in person as well as online. The latter is known as cyberstalking

Much like sexual harassment, stalking seems to happen to women more often than men. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 16% of women and 5% of men have experienced stalking in their lifetime. 

Stalking Laws in Texas

In Texas, stalking is covered by the Texas Penal Code, which is the principal criminal code of that state. The Code was originally enacted in 1856 and went through revisions in 1973, which were primarily based on the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code.

The Texas Penal Code defines stalking in the following words: 

“Someone commits the offense of stalking if on more than one occasion the individual knowingly engages in conduct (including following another person), that the offender knows, or a reasonable person would believe, the other person will regard as threatening. This may include bodily injury or death for the person, their family or home members, or their property.”

What to Do if You Are Being Stalked in Texas?

The Travis County Sheriff in Texas issued some general advice on how to stop a stalker. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Notify law enforcement
  2. Keep a log
  3. Get a protective order
  4. Record phone conversations
  5. Take photos of the stalker
  6. Save all correspondence
  7. Tell everyone

Notify Law Enforcement

You should take the issue seriously and report all stalking incidents to the police. Provide the police with the evidence of the stalking that occurred, including recorded phone calls, written correspondence, and screenshots of social media messages. Don’t forget to request a copy of the report from your local police station.

Keep a Log

List the names and addresses of the individuals that have witnessed the stalking incidents. Write a detailed description of each incident, including the time and location where it took place.

Get a Restraining Order 

By getting a restraining order against the stalker, you can be sure that he or she will be banned from harassing you or causing you harm in any other way, including stalking.

If you’re the victim of domestic violence and require formal protection from your current or ex-spouse, the court can issue a protective order, which differs from a restraining order. When an abuser violates a protective order, they can face serious criminal charges.

Record Phone Conversations

Tell the stalker to stop calling and hang up on them. Write down the time and date you’ve received those harassing phone calls, record them if you can, and enclose them as evidence to the police.

Take Photos of the Stalker

Take pictures of the stalker if you can do so in a safe manner. Write down the time, date, and place of each photograph.

Save All Correspondence

If you save or make a copy of everything that you receive from the stalker, including letters, cards, and gifts, this will be beneficial proof for the police. Try to touch the evidence as little as possible to preserve the stalker’s fingerprints.

Tell Everyone

Let your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, or fellow students know about the stalker in your life. They can help to keep you safe and make you feel that you’re not alone. What’s more, they can testify to the police if they witnessed the stalking.

Legal Penalties for Stalking in Texas

If the offender gets convicted of stalking, they are looking at a third-degree felony offense. If the defendant was previously convicted of stalking in Texas or another state, penalties would be lifted to a second-degree felony.

A first offense can result in a prison sentence of two to ten years and a maximum fine of $10,000. A second offense comes with a prison sentence between two and twenty years and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Types of Stalkers

Based on the stalker’s level of familiarity with the victim, we recognize four main types of stalkers:

Type of Stalker

Description

Intimate Stalker

  • The offender has previously been romantically involved with the victim
  • This is the most common and dangerous type of stalker

Acquaintance Stalker 

  • The perpetrator is a person who is an acquaintance of the victim (like a work colleague or neighbor)
  • This type of stalker can sometimes be dangerous 

Stranger Stalker

  • The stalker is someone who has known their victim only vaguely but quickly developed an obsession with him or her

Celebrity Stalker 

  • The offender has no prior relationship to the victim
  • The celebrity stalker has developed an unhealthy and delusional obsession with a famous person

Tell Your Stalker to Stop With the Help of DoNotPay

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If you’re being stalked, it can feel like a dark cloud is looming over you. Don’t keep it a secret. Remember that it’s not your fault. Most importantly, don’t ignore the issue and think the stalking may get resolved by itself—it probably won’t. Our app can help you take some formal steps against your stalker.

Follow these simple instructions:

  1. Open the DoNotPay app in your web browser or on your iOS device
  2. Go to Relationship Protection to start the conversation with our chatbot
  3. Click on Explore Relationship Services
  4. Choose Safety and Stalking, then select Let’s Do It
  5. Confirm that you need help with Stalking
  6. Give answers to the chatbot’s questions 

DoNotPay’s next step will depend on whether you’re dealing with online or in-person stalking. 

In-Person Stalking 

For in-person stalking, our app will create a cease and desist letter on your behalf. This letter serves a few crucial purposes as it:

  • Asks the stalker to stop their behavior immediately
  • Acts as evidence that you’ve tried to resolve the problem yourself
  • Warns the stalker of the legal action you will take against him or her if the stalking doesn’t end

Online Stalking 

Online stalking or cyberstalking can be just as frightening and distressing as in-person stalking. To safeguard you from the online stalker, DoNotPay will:

  1. Contact the social or digital media platform that the stalker used for stalking purposes
  2. Report the stalker for online stalking to the website’s owners, which will put the harasser’s account under investigation 
  3. Request the stalker to be blocked, so that they’re prevented from reaching out to you again

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