The crime of stalking is classified as an assault under the Michigan Penal Code.  To establish the crime of stalking, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • the accused committed two or more willful, separate, and noncontinuous unconsented contacts with the alleged victim;
  • the contact would cause a reasonable individual to suffer emotional distress [the objective standard of the “reasonable person”];
  • the contact actually caused the individual to suffer emotional distress [the subjective standard, i.e. the actual individual involved in the incident];
  • the contact would cause a reasonable individual to feel: terrified, threatened, terrorized, frightened, intimidated, harassed, or molested [again, this is couched in terms of an objective standard]; and
  • the contact actually caused the individual to feel: terrified, threatened, terrorized, frightened, intimidated, harassed, or molested.

The crime of aggravated stalking adds the element of the above conduct being in violation of a previously issued injunction or court order, such as a Personal Protection Order.  The accused must have actual knowledge of the injunction.

Stalking can be a one-year misdemeanor offense, or it can take the form of aggravated stalking, a 5-year felony.  Also, the crime encompasses threats made to the complainant, a member of the complainant’s family, or someone residing in the complainant’s household.

The statutory definition of “harassment”, one of the components to the stalking statute, does not include constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose.  Thus, some First Amendment protection is available for this type of criminal charge.