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Have you or a loved one been charged with kidnapping or stalking in Oklahoma City or anywhere in the state of Oklahoma? Your first course of action should be to retain an attorney experienced in these types of cases. Our legal team will ensure that your rights are protected at all times.
Often, the terms associated with different crimes bring to mind the worst-case scenarios. The word “kidnapping,” for example, typically makes people think of stranger abductions, where a predator snatches a child and drags him or her away to be brutalized and murdered.
Similarly, the term “stalking” often conjures images of an obsessive person relentlessly following a stranger with whom he or she has an imaginary relationship, and when their attention is spurned, becomes hell-bent on destroying the object of their “affection.” The unwanted attention becomes threatening, menacing, and dangerous.
While these extreme situations can and do occur, many acts of kidnapping and stalking seem much more subtle than the stuff of blockbuster thrillers. For example, stranger abductions are rare. Kidnappings typically involve a child abduction by a non-custodial parent. A person may also be charged with kidnapping during a domestic dispute if he or she does not allow the other person to leave the premises at will.
In cases of stalking, the defendant is likely to be someone who is trying to contact another—often a former intimate partner—and finds himself or herself frustrated that the other person will not allow contact or communication. The “stalker” feels misunderstood and continues to attempt contact in order to explain a situation, and the continued contact becomes harassing to the other person. Soon, the person finds himself or herself under arrest for stalking.
Regardless of the intent that leads to a stalking or kidnapping charge, the potential consequences of conviction are quite serious. It is important to seek legal counsel as soon as you have been arrested or have become aware that someone has filed a police report or petitioned for a protective order against you. As with all other situations in criminal law, do not speak with law enforcement unless you have retained a lawyer and he or she has advised the communication.
State law defines “stalking” in 21 O.S. § 1173 as a pattern of harassment or intimidation that:
1. Would cause a reasonable person or a member of the immediate family of that person as defined in subsection F of this section to feel frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested; and
2. Actually causes the person being followed or harassed to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.
The state’s stalking laws consider “unconsented contact” to be a part of stalking. This means that a person does not have to physically follow another person to be guilty of stalking. Examples of unconsented contact provided by state law include the following:
a. following or appearing within the sight of that individual,
b. approaching or confronting that individual in a public place or on private property,
c. appearing at the workplace or residence of that individual,
d. entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by that individual,
e. contacting that individual by telephone,
f. sending mail or electronic communications to that individual, and
g. placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by that individual
In its definition of stalking, Oklahoma law states that when following or harassing another person is done “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly,” the act is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
However, stalking in violation of a protective order and repeated acts of stalking (within 10 years of a prior incident) are considered to be much more serious. In these cases, stalking becomes a felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
If a person has a second offense of stalking in violation of a protective order, or a third offense of stalking within 10 years of a prior conviction, the penalties are again increased: up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
The statute defining, prohibiting, and penalizing kidnapping in Oklahoma is found in 21 O.S. § 741. The law does not limit the definition of kidnapping to physically abducting someone and carrying him or her away against his or her will. The law also covers other acts of deception to lure a person away or acts of unlawfully detaining someone against his or her will:
Any person who, without lawful authority, seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, or carries away another, with intent, either:
1. To cause such other person to be confined or imprisoned in this state against the will of the other person; or
2. To cause such other person to be sent out of this state against the will of the other person; or
3. To cause such person to be sold as a slave, or in any way held to service against the will of such person,
shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term not exceeding twenty (20) years.
Under state law, consent is not a defense to kidnapping if a victim is 12 years old or younger or if a jury finds that such consent was obtained by threat or duress.
If kidnapping involves sexual assault, it becomes a Level 3 sex offense which mandates lifetime sex offender registration.
If you or someone you love has been accused of stalking or kidnapping, or if you have been named in a protective order alleging stalking, it is important to contact a lawyer as quickly as possible. Do not make further contact with the accuser and call (405) 778-4800 to speak with the Law Offices of Adam R. Banner, P.C. about your case.