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Massachusetts Stalking Laws

In Massachusetts, "stalking " is a specific criminal offense found in the penal code. Stalking refers to a clear, repetitive pattern of intentional unwanted, harassing, or threatening behavior directed toward another person that causes fear of personal safety or that of immediate family members.

Highlights of Massachusetts’ stalking laws are summarized in the chart below. For additional information and resources, see the links at the end of this article.

Code Section

 

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, section 43 prohibits stalking in the commonwealth.

Stalking Defined

Stalking is defined as the following behavior:

  1. Willfully and maliciously engaging in conduct that seriously alarms or annoys a specific person and would cause reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress; and
  2.  Making threats with the intent to the place person in fear of death or bodily injury.

The threatening conduct may be written or verbal and includes mail, phone calls, email and other internet communications, text messages, and other instant messages.

Punishment for Stalking

Criminal penalties for stalking depend the unique circumstances of each case, but may include the following:

  • Confinement in state prison for no more than five years; or
  • A fine of no more than $1,000; or
  • Imprisonment in house of correction no more than two and a half years; or
  • By both a fine and imprisonment.

If a defendant is charged with stalking and in violation of protective order, the punishment is a jail or state prison term for a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years. When sentencing a defendant for stalking in violation of a restraining order, the judge has no discretion to impose a sentence of anything less than one year of imprisonment.

Penalty for Repeat Offense

If a defendant commits a repeat offense, he or she faces a mandatory minimum of two years or a maximum of ten years in jail or prison.

Any person in a dangerous emergency situation that requires immediate intervention should call 911 for assistance.

If you believe you are the victim of stalking or domestic violence, you may consider contacting local law enforcement about how to open a criminal case and pursue a protective order. Defendants charged with stalking or related crimes may want the assistance of an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney.

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