Although stalking has only relatively recently been characterized as a criminal offense within the U.S., all 50 states now have some type of anti-stalking law on the books. These laws make it a crime to intentionally and repeatedly follow someone for the purpose of harassing that person with threats of violence. Celebrities often invoke stalking laws, as do former spouses or partners, and they also may utilize protective orders from courts. While stalking is usually associated with unwanted contact or communication that occurs in-person, it's important to realize that it can also occur over a variety of other mediums, including telephones, mail, email, internet messaging, and social networks, among others.
In Illinois, stalking is considered a class 4 felony that occurs when someone follows or watches the victim on at least two different occasions, causing the victim to feel his or her safety or well-being is at risk in some way. Illinois stalking laws characterize aggravated stalking, a class 3 felony, as that which results in (or is in conjunction with) bodily harm to the victim. Aggravated stalking also includes confining or restraining the victim, as well as violating a court protective order or injunction.
Illinois Stalking Laws: An Overview
The following table lists the charges and potential penalties under Illinois stalking laws.
Illinois Statutes Section 5/12-7.3 (stalking)
|Definition of Stalking
- Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to either (1) fear for his or her safety or the safety of a third person; or (2) suffer other emotional distress; or
- Knowingly and without lawful justification following or surveiling another on at least 2 separate occasions and threatening or placing the victim in reasonable apprehension; or
- Aggravated stalking is stalking in conjunction with causing bodily harm, confining or restraining victim or violating court order or injunction.
Stalking: This is a Class 4 Felony punishable by 1-3 years in prison and by fines of up to $25,000. Second or subsequent offenses are Class 3 Felonies punishable by 2-5 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
Aggravated Stalking: This is a Class 3 Felony punishable as described above.
|Constitutionally Protected Activities Exempted?
Yes as picketing or the exercise of the right of free speech or assembly are exempted if otherwise lawful.
Defenses can include:
- Lack of intent
- Mistake of fact
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Illinois Stalking Laws: Related Resources
Be Prepared for Your Stalking Case: Talk to a Defense Attorney Today
If you've been accused of stalking, what will ultimately determine the outcome in your case is the strength of the evidence against you. Not all evidence is admissible in court and sometimes evidence that seems harmful at first could actually cut in your favor. That's why it's critical to have a trusted criminal defense attorney in your corner who understands how to evaluate and shape evidence in a case.