Daniel Ward was arrested Wednesday after allegedly taking photos of multiple women at a Villa Rica Walmart. According to reports, Ward was taking cellphone pictures underneath the women's skirts and dresses as they shopped.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I will outline the offense of stalking and the law behind it in today's post.
Stalking in Georgia
The Georgia Code defines the crime of stalking in Georgia as:
A person will be convicted when he or she follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person. O.C.G.A. §16-5-90.
If convicted of stalking, a person will be guilty of a misdemeanor in Georgia. This means the penalty can include up to 12 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. However, a second or subsequent conviction will be classified as a felony and will face a penalty of incarceration for a term of one to ten years.
Moreover, a judge may require the defendant undergo a psychological evaluation. The judge is allowed to consider the evaluation as well as the entire criminal record of the accused. During the sentencing, the judge may place a permanent restraining order against the accused to protect the victim from being stalked as well as their family. If the defendant has not undergone a psychological evaluation beforehand, the judge is authorized to require psychological treatment as a part of the sentence, or as a condition for suspension of the sentence, or probation.
Criminal offenses such as stalking or other invasion of privacy crimes in Georgia are taken very seriously. Stalking violates the right to one's privacy. This can include following someone, secretly videotaping or photographing someone, making unwanted communication, and many more nonconsensual actions.
Sadly, most of the time, when someone is accused of stalking another individual, people jump to the conclusion that the accused person is automatically guilty of the crime. As a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, I know this is not the case. Unfortunately, people are wrongly accused quite often.
In situations of wrongful accusations, there are Georgia Criminal Defenses that can apply. These defenses include but are not limited to:
- Mistaken Identity
- Lack of Intent
- Reasonable Person Standard (a reasonable person would not have been distressed by the conduct)
- One-time Offense
If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in Georgia, contact our offices today. We can walk through the details of your case and determine which defenses may apply.