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Stalking and the Law in Texas

Stalking

This article provides information on stalking.

Learn more about what stalking is and what you can do if you are a victim of stalking. 

What is stalking?

Under the Texas stalking laws in Texas Penal Code 42.072, it is illegal when a person engages in a pattern of repeated behavior that is directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. The stalker makes threats that can include injuring the targeted person, death threats, and threats to injure a member of the victim's family or household or someone they are dating.  

Is it still stalking if the stalker sent someone else to act on their behalf?

Yes. Stalking can be perpetrated by someone acting on the stalker's behalf. 

What do stalkers usually do?

A stalker may try to control their victim through behavior or threats intended to intimidate and terrify. 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 can take the form of verbal threats or threats conveyed by the stalker's conduct, threatening mail, property damage, surveillance of the victim, or by following the victim. 

Who is likely to be stalked?

Anyone can be the victim of stalking. 

Is it still stalking if I know the person?

Yes. A stalker can be an unknown person, an acquaintance, or a former intimate partner. However, most stalking victims are stalked by someone they know such as a current or former partner, acquaintance, or family member. 

How do I know if I am being stalked?

The stalker may: 

  • Follow the victim, the victim's family or household members, or all of the above;
  • Vandalize the victim's property;
  • Inflict damage to propertyperhaps by vandalizing the car, harming a pet, or breaking windows at the victim's home; 
  • Make repeated phone calls, emails, text messages, messages through social media;
  • Send unwanted gifts; 
  • Drive by or park near the victim's home, office, and other places familiar to the victim;
  • Wait for someone to arrive at or leave certain places; 
  • Watch the victim from a distance; or
  • Use GPS or other software to track their victim without their knowledge (for example, in violation of Texas Penal Code 16.06).

What if the victim is more annoyed and angry than in fear?

People react differently to stalkers. Some people might seem annoyed or angry rather than scared, and some people might minimize or be dismissive of the stalking and hide their fear. 

What are some indicators that someone is in fear?

A victim might change their behavior to deal with the stalking. They might change their daily commute, travel routes, avoid going out, avoid certain locations, and more. A victim may also feel isolated, hopeless, anxious, hypervigilant, nervous, stressed, and even develop depression. 

What should I do if someone is stalking me?

Tell your local law enforcement, prosecutor’s office, and everyone around you. All incidents should be reported to the police, and make sure to request that each incident is documented. Request a copy of the report. Document any correspondence, phone calls, and text messages the stalker sends. Record any telephone conversations.  

You should keep a journal that documents everything that happens with a description of the incident and dates. Get the contact information of any witnesses, as it may help you with any later prosecution. 

It might seem embarrassing to tell everyone around you, but it is not! The people around you may see things you don’t and help to keep you safe. Ask them to document each time they see the stalker and report it to you. 

Can I get a protective order against my stalker?

Under Texas law, you can seek a protective order against a stalker—even if you have no current or former dating, roommate, or family relationship with them.

See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 7B.

One way to apply for a stalking protective order is by contacting your local county or district attorney. Many legal aid offices can guide you in obtaining a protective order. You can also hire a private attorney. You have the right to represent yourself in a protective order application. But for many reasons, it is best to work closely with a crime victims' services program, family violence professional, or lawyer.

You can ask for a protective order against someone you accuse of stalking during court proceedings related to the alleged stalking. See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 7B.051. Otherwise, the process for seeking a stalking protective order is similar to the process of seeking any other type of protective order.

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