Stalking is following around or otherwise bothering another person by means of communication (including e-mail and text). This can manifest itself in many ways. Sometimes, the stalker is a person with romantic interests in the victim even after the victim turns him or her down. A stalker can be a former spouse or lover who abused the victim, and continues to do so through stalking. Other times persons with mental health problems stalk celebrities or politicians because they think they are destined to be a part of the fame or that it's the only way to affect political change.
Kansas, like the other states, has laws prohibiting stalking. Some states call this crime criminal harassment, but Kansas calls it stalking. Kansas allows stalking victims to request protection orders. For more on the criminal stalking laws in Kansas, see the table below.
||Kansas Statutes Section 21-5427: Stalking
|What is Stalking?
||Kansas law defines stalking as recklessly or knowingly engaging in a course of conduct towards a victim that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her family members, and the victim is actually afraid.
The types of behavior that would be considered a “course of conduct” for stalking are two or more of the following acts over a period of time:
- Threatening the safety of the victim or his or her immediate family (parents, children, siblings, spouse, etc.)
- Following, approaching, or confronting the victim or his or her family
- Coming to or entering the victim’s home, workplace, school, or other place he or she is likely to be, or any of those of the victim’s family
- Damaging the victim or his or her family’s home or property
- Placing something on the victim or his or her family’s property, including through a third party (from your cousin to the UPS delivery person)
- Injuring the victim or his or her family’s pet
- Any communications, from phone, letter, package, e-mail, text, etc.
You can still be charged with stalking while incarcerated because writing, phone calls, and other means of communication with the outside world to reach the victim are still possible.
||Stalking laws are penalized based on the circumstances, such as if you have any prior stalking convictions or if there’s a protection order in place.
Stalking is typically a Class A misdemeanor punished by at most one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. However, if you have previously been convicted of stalking and did it again recklessly, it’s a level 7 person felony, or did it again knowingly, then it’s a level 5 person felony.
Kansas uses a sentencing grid to determine punishments based on prior convictions and “person” or “nonperson” crimes (meaning a person was directly harmed like a rape or assault) and drug and non-drug crimes.
If a person continues to stalk after having notice of a protection order, it’s a level 9 felony for the first offense and a level 5 person felony for any subsequent convictions. A level 5 felony can result in a sentence from about 2.5 years to over 11 years and prison time is likely. A fine of up to $300,000 can also be assessed.
||A stalking victim can request a protection order under the Kansas Protection from Stalking Act. For more information on these, see the Kansas protection order article.
|Constitutionally Protected Activities
||To protect constitutional rights, including the freedom of expression, those activities are exempted from stalking laws. However, typically a stalker who’s terrorizing a private victim isn’t doing anything protected by the constitution.
Help for Stalking Victims
If someone has been continuously bothering you and you’re afraid, please tell someone. Call 911 in an emergency or stop by your local police station to file a report. You should also call the 24-hour Kansas Crisis Hotline at 1-888-363-2287 for more information on services in your area and to make a safety plan. You may also want to hire an experienced family law attorney to request a protection order.
Help for Accused Perpetrators
If you’ve been accused of stalking, the first thing you must do is cut all ties with that individual. Do not go near him or her, his or her family, avoid anywhere he or she may be, and do not text, call, e-mail, or otherwise try to contact him or her. Be sure to contact an experienced Kansas criminal defense lawyer with any questions, as well as if you’re served with any legal papers related to this or are charged with any crimes.
Note: Kansas, like all states, regularly updates its laws. Contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these stalking laws.
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