Stalking in Michigan: Charges, Penalties & Defense

Man in shadows stalking

Are you or is someone you love being investigated for stalking in Michigan?

Few discussions are as emotionally charged as the debate around stalking.

On one side, there are stories like that of Rosemarie Reilly, who had filed a complaint against her ex-boyfriend Jeremy Kelley in 2016.

However, Reilly was ultimately dragged out of her friend’s house by her hair and shot in the street.

Kelley then turned the gun on himself.

Reilly’s family filed a federal lawsuit against Grand Valley State University’s campus police officers, Ottawa County, and sheriff’s deputies in 2018. The lawsuit alleges they didn’t do enough to protect her after her complaints against Kelley.

However, there is another picture of stalking charges. Men are at risk of having this charge leveled at them in domestic disputes, and not for violent behavior.

Stalking charges can be used unfairly in custody agreements to effectively end a man’s contact with his children.

We see cases all the time where an ex-wife or girlfriend uses a Personal Protection Order (PPO) to gain the upper hand. If he violates it, suddenly he’s been labeled a violent offender.

Stalking Charges in Michigan

In the state of Michigan, stalking is defined as “a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuous harassment.” that “causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.”

The law recognizes a pattern of stalking over a long period where the stalker attempts to or does make unwanted contact with the victim repeatedly.

This is precisely what happened to Rosemarie Reilly. She was beaten and stalked by Jeremy Kelley long before her death at his hands.

Misdemeanor Stalking Penalties in Michigan

Misdemeanor stalking charges allege that you have engaged in a pattern of unwanted contact with another person that makes them feel threatened.

It could be contact in public or private, emails, phone calls, delivering gifts, or any other actions that, if unwanted, could be construed as stalking.

Misdemeanor stalking penalties include up to a year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. In addition, if the victim is a minor, you could be facing up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Felony Stalking Penalties in Michigan

Felony stalking takes into its definition the above actions, plus any of these conditions:

  • Violating a restraining order (PPO)
  • Violating probations, parole or pre-trial release
  • Making a feasible threat against the victim, his or her family, or a household member of the victim
  • One prior stalking conviction

Felony stalking penalties include up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000. If the victim was a minor, penalties are up to 10 years in prison.

Defense Strategies

You may be able to see the potential problem with this charge.

What if the alleged victim never felt unsafe, but your relationship ended, and they wanted custody of the kids?

If this person made false charges against you, your attempts to reconcile or to make things right could suddenly be interpreted as criminal.

If you are being investigated for stalking charges, you need to call a skilled defense attorney right away.

No matter where you are in your stalking case, an attorney can help to keep you from suffering unjust penalties and work to uncover the truth if you are wrongly accused.

I understand it can be especially difficult if you have a PPO against you. But if you violate the PPO, you are facing 93 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Don’t let them win.

Talking to an experienced lawyer can often help keep you from making a mistake you will regret.

If this is your first charge, we can work to keep you out of prison by recommending counseling, probation, or anger management therapies.

Michigan Violent Crimes Attorney

Stalking is considered a violent crime, and rightly so since it can be the precursor to murder in some cases.

If you are facing stalking charges, you need the help of an aggressive violent crime criminal attorney on your side immediately. Call my office today.

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