Stalking Charges in Texas

Texas man worrying about being stalked in his car

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Divorces, breakups, and complicated relationships are stressful enough, but when resulting behaviors are identified as stalking, things become that much more challenging. In fact, the charge of stalking can apply in instances that may surprise you.

Stalking is a crime, and its definition is broader than many people realize. If you are facing a stalking charge, turn to an experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney for the skilled legal guidance you’re looking for.

The Crime of Stalking

Every state in the nation has laws that make stalking a crime, but every state also has its own unique twist on the matter. In Texas, stalking refers to a pattern of malicious behavior rather than a single event or occurrence.

Stalking can take the form of physical actions or interactions or can involve contacting someone repeatedly. Such contact can take any form, including all the following means of contact:

  • Phone calls or messages

  • Social media comments or messages

  • Letters or notes

  • Electronic messaging, such as texts, emails, DMs, or any other messaging system

To rise to the level of stalking, the actions or communications involved must be unwelcome and unwanted and must cause the recipient to worry about their own well-being or safety or the well-being or safety of someone they care about.


In order for actions, interactions, or communication to be classified as stalking in Texas, the perpetrator must know that their behaviors make the recipient feel threatened or afraid. However, this intent also applies if the perpetrator reasonably should have known that their behaviors would have this effect.

A prime example of unwanted stalking behavior is an estranged couple. Let’s say a woman lets her ex know in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t want to have contact with him. In this situation, if the ex frequently shows up unexpectedly on the woman’s property, it is both expected and reasonable that the woman would feel threatened.

Stalking Behaviors

In Texas, the pattern of behaviors that is identified as stalking does not have to be directed at the person who claims to have been stalked. Instead, all the following situations are covered by Texas stalking laws:

  • When the behavior is directed at a member of the target’s family

  • When the behavior is directed at a member of the target’s household

  • When the behavior is directed at someone with whom the target has a romantic relationship

Any repeated actions or communications against the target or someone close to them – as defined above – are identified as stalking if they lead to any of the following outcomes:

  • Putting the person in fear of serious bodily injury or death

  • Putting the person in fear of their property being damaged

  • Causing the person to be harassed, alarmed, tormented, abused, offended, annoyed, or embarrassed

It’s important to note that while stalking and sexual harassment are often confused with one another, they are very distinct charges. Stalking is a criminal charge, and sexual harassment is a civil charge that generally applies to employment situations.

The Stalker

The Office of the Texas Attorney General defines stalkers this way:

"A stalker tries to control his or her victim through behavior or threats intended to intimidate and terrify. A stalker can be an unknown person, an acquaintance, or a former intimate partner. A stalker’s state of mind can range from obsessive love to obsessive hatred. A stalker may follow a victim off and on for a period of days, weeks, or even years. Stalking victims feel reasonable fear of bodily injury or death to themselves, family, or household members, or may fear damage to property."

The Threat Does Not Have to Be Overt

Stalking is associated with threats that cause the victim to experience fear, but the threat does not have to be outright, such as when someone makes an obvious verbal threat. Instead, the threat can be veiled or implied, which means that the victim recognizes the threat even if the alleged stalker does not come right out with it.

Outright Threat

An outright threat is something that is plainly a threat. For example, if someone speaks to you threateningly and says he or she will harm you, someone you care about, or a pet if you don’t do X, Y, or Z, it is an outright threat that is difficult to misinterpret.

Veiled Threat

A veiled or implied threat, on the other hand, is one that suggests or implies harm. For example, if someone tells you that you have a beautiful child and that it would be a shame if anything happened to them, it’s considered a veiled threat. The speaker is letting you know that harm could befall your child if you don’t go along with their suggestion, request, or demand.

As you can see, the foundation of stalking charges has the potential to be rather shaky and open to interpretation. If you are facing stalking charges or are a victim of stalking, contact a skilled Killeen lawyer for the help you need to defend your rights.

Tell-Tale Signs of Stalking

Stalking can take a range of forms and can vary from very subtle to extremely pronounced. To help you better understand what is considered stalking, the Office of the Attorney General has shared the following tell-tale signs of stalking:

  • If someone purposefully follows you or someone you care about on more than one occasion

  • If someone does damage to your property or the property of someone you care about – such as by vandalizing a vehicle, breaking a window, or harming a pet – on more than one occasion

  • If someone makes more than one threatening call to you or someone you care about or sends more than one threatening message to you or someone you care about

  • If, on more than one occasion, someone drives by or parks near your home, office, or a place that you’re known to frequent – or does the same to someone you care about

It’s important to note that stalking can be exceptionally difficult to prove.

Proving the Charge of Stalking

As mentioned, in order for the charge of stalking to stick, the accused must either know that their actions will instill fear of serious injury or death or must intend for them to do so.

Further, the crime of stalking requires a threat against a specific person and cannot simply be a general threat. However, the threat does not have to be perpetrated by the stalker. Another person can carry it out on their part, and his or her involvement in the stalking does not have to be intentional.

Further, stalking must involve more than one incident because stalking refers to a pattern of behaviors that add up to the crime of stalking. This fact makes stalking charges more complex than those related to many other crimes. Although qualifying as stalking requires multiple occurrences, this does not mean that more than one police report is required.

Stalking charges can get complicated very quickly. If you are facing criminal charges related to stalking, contact a Killeen criminal defense lawyer right away.

Stalking Is a Felony

In Texas, stalking is a third-degree felony. Stalking is taken seriously because it is closely associated with escalation. A conviction for a third-degree felony comes with a prison sentence of 2 to 10 years and fines of up to $10,000. If the stalking charge isn’t a first offense, it is a second-degree felony. A conviction means 2 to 20 years behind bars and up to $10,000 in fines.

An Interesting Case to Consider

A mother and daughter team were indicted in Texas on stalking charges in 2020, and the case is as strange as it is telling.

The Stalking Behaviors

The daughter in the stalking duo made witchcraft totems that were left on the car and porch of her husband’s ex-girlfriend over the course of several months. The totems included the following articles:

  • A photo of the ex-girlfriend with a red pentagram drawn over her face, along with a burned-out blue candle

  • A mason jar filled with sand

  • A small voodoo doll made of twine that had pins in the head, face, and heart

  • A pair of black men’s underwear along with a note that said, “Just thought you should know”

  • A burned-out blue candle with magic symbols denoting horror, death, pain, delusion, insanity, and destruction

  • A black leather scroll that contained a photo of the ex-girlfriend along with a note written in Latin and a white rose dipped in something red that were all tied up with twine

The daughter made these totems and drove her mother to the ex-girlfriend’s home. The mother got out and strategically placed the items.

The ex-girlfriend told the police that she noticed the vehicle of the daughter’s husband’s driving near her place on several occasions and that things happened according to a pattern – activity picked up around Friday the 13th and the solstice, for example.

When asked what she thought drove the two women to stalk her, she relayed that the man’s wife thought she maintained an attachment to him, which she said was not true.

Causing Fear

The stalking victim told the police that the events put her in fear for her own safety and the safety of her family. She also shared that she’d gotten counseling as a result of the ongoing stalking.

The Mother's and Daughter’s Takes on the Matter

For her part, the daughter who was charged with stalking said about the ex-girlfriend, “She was a really big problem, so yes, I was messing with her.” She also admitted that she was well aware of what she was doing and intended to get back at the woman.

For her part, the mother said that she thought they were helping the ex-girlfriend “get the hint.” She also relayed, “I didn’t see it going this far, and it wasn’t a big deal. I thought it was funny.”

In other words, the mother and daughter laid out each of the elements necessary for a stalking charge, including all the following requirements:

  • They systematically engaged in multiple stalking behaviors.

  • They intended for the ex-girlfriend to be afraid.

  • They accomplished their goal of frightening the woman and making her fear for her own and her family’s safety.

At the time the story was covered by the Longview News-Journal, the mother was in jail on a $150,000 bond while the daughter was out of jail on a $75,000 bond.


Cyberstalking is also a crime that is covered by Texas’s Electronics Communications Act as well as by federal laws. Cyberstalking and cyber-harassment, along with other forms of online abuse, are considered a means of mental or emotional abuse and are very serious crimes.

The charge of cyberstalking can take a wide range of forms, and all the following online activities suffice:

  • Abuse via social media

  • Online sexual abuse

  • Cyberbullying

  • Monitoring the Internet activity of others

  • Making false claims or accusations online

  • Causing someone else to suffer damage to their reputation

  • Coaxing someone to meet up with the cyberstalker

  • Encouraging others to harass a target

Cyberstalking can also include internet crimes like the following offenses:

Depending upon the seriousness of the illegal activity, a cyberstalking charge can range from a Class B misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.

Cybercrime charges can spring from heated communications that one party mistakenly perceives or professes to perceive as threatening. Some cybercrime charges are also a form of retaliation in the face of a relationship gone bad. In other words, cybercrime charges are incredibly common, which makes minding your p’s and q’s online an excellent choice.

An Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney Is on Your Side

Stalking charges are complicated, and so too is building your strongest defense, which makes having professional legal guidance in your corner paramount.

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a trusted criminal defense attorney who will leave no stone unturned in his quest to defend your legal rights. He has the legal knowledge and drive you need in pursuit of a favorable outcome that supports your best future.

Learn more about what we can do to help you by contacting us online or calling us at (254) 781-4222 today.

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