Stalking is a pattern of behavior of contacting, following around, or otherwise pestering the victim, which causes them to be in reasonable fear of the stalker. Many times, an abuser stalks a former spouse or lover after he or she leaves the relationship. Often, the stalking is a continuation of domestic violence. Other times, people with mental illness stalk co-workers, celebrities, or politicians due to obsessions or delusions related to the victim or a specific political issue.
After a slow national recognition of the problem of stalking, states have created laws to prohibit the practice. While the terms used and penalties can vary by state, they’re typically called stalking or criminal harassment laws, though harassment often has a separate criminal law and type of legal protection order. Maine has both stalking and harassment laws. Some states have a specific type of protection order for stalking victims to recognize the differences between stalking and domestic violence.
In Maine, a stalking victim can request a protection order that requires the abuser to stay away from him or her. This protection order is the same as a domestic violence relationship, but the victim doesn't have to be married, dated, lived with, had a child with, or be related to the abuser, just to have been a victim of stalking. There are also protection from harassment orders.
Stalking Laws in Maine
The following chart explains the basics of Maine’s stalking laws.
||Maine Code Revised Title 17-A: Criminal Code, Section 210-A: Stalking and Domestic Violence Stalking
|What is Prohibited?
||Maine law outlaws stalking, defined as intentionally or knowingly engaging in conduct (at least two or more acts of following, monitoring, threatening, or harassing the victim, etc.) directed at a specific person that causes or would reasonably cause:
- The victim to seriously modify his or her actions or routines to avoid the stalker, changing phone numbers or e-mail addresses, moving, switching around routes to school or work, etc.
- Emotional distress in the victim, demonstrated by anxiety or fear that could be shown by a mental health diagnosis
- Fear of bodily injury or death to the victim or his or her close relative (partner, parent, child, sibling, household member, etc.) or a pet
- Fear of damage, destruction, or tampering with property
Domestic violence stalking is the crime of stalking (as described above) of a current or former family or household member.
||Stalking is generally a Class D crime. However, if the stalker as two or more prior convictions, including granted emergency or final protection orders, in Maine or in another state, federal, or tribal court it’s a Class C crime.
A Class D crime can be sentenced to up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,000. A Class C crime can be sentenced to at most five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
|Protection or Restraining Orders
||People who have a stalker harassing them can seek a protection from abuse order from their local district court.
Help for Victims
If you’re being stalked, please seek help before something tragic happens. In an emergency, call 911. Also, contact the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence at 1-866-834-HELP (4357) for safety planning and referrals in your area.
Help for Accused Stalkers
If you or a loved one are charged with stalking, you should first immediately stop all contact with the supposed victim. Do NOT attempt to monitor or contact him or her in any way. You should also speak with an experienced Maine criminal defense lawyer.
Note: State laws are revised often. Contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these stalking laws.
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