South Carolina Code Annotated 16-3-1730: Stalking (Felony)
Under the South Carolina criminal laws Section 16-3-1730 (SC Code of Laws), stalking occurs if the Defendant intentionally engages in a pattern of conduct, or intentionally uses a pattern of words, to cause fear in an intended target and did cause fear in this target as a result of his or her pattern of conduct or words.
The State of South Carolina (referred to as the “Solicitor”) must be able to prove (with relevant, admissible evidence) the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to sustain a conviction for stalking:
- That the Defendant used a pattern of words (verbal, written or electronic) OR Defendant engaged in a pattern of conduct that does not serve a legitimate purpose
- That Defendant intended to cause fear in the victim
- That Defendant did cause the victim to fear (and would have caused a in a reasonable person in like or similar circumstances to fear):
- a. Their own death or the death of a victim’s family member
- b. Assault upon their person or a member of his or her family
- c. Bodily injury to their person or bodily injury or a member of his or her family
- d. Criminal sexual conduct on their person or a member of his or her family
- e. Kidnapping of them or a member of his family OR
- f. Damage to their personal or real property or a member of his or her family
“Pattern” means two or more acts, evidencing continuity of purpose, occurring over a time period, however short.
“Family” includes a sibling, parent, child, spouse, or person regularly residing in the same household as the person being stalked.
“Electronic contact” means the transfer of information via words, images, etc. through a device, system or mechanism.
Devices, systems or mechanisms include photo-optical, photoelectric, electromagnetic, computer, radio and/or wire, including such things as cell phones, computers, and laptop computers.1. Examples of Felony Stalking
Defendant and girlfriend live in Rock Hill, South Carolina off of Cherry Road, near the Winthrop University campus. They have been dating for 3 years. Girlfriend breaks up with boyfriend due to his cheating. The boyfriend physically assaulted his girlfriend, further threatening her, “This isn’t over. You’ll be dead before I ever see you with someone else.” He is charged and convicted of assault charges in York County, as well as for communicating a threat. Defendant refuses to move on from the relationship, even though he’s on probation for misdemeanor assault. Defendant begins sending messages through Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat begging for his ex-girlfriend to get back together with him. She blocks him on all social media posts. Defendant begins to follow her around different places in York County and across the border in Charlotte. Girlfriend notices this pattern of conduct and files an order of protection, i.e., restraining order, against him. As part of the order, the Judge declares that Defendant shall not threaten or harass her. He leaves unsigned notes in her windshield stating he will kill her and her family. Defendant is subsequently arrested for stalking and violating the order of protection. Defendant can be charged with stalking. Defendant is facing a substantial prison sentence and fines if convicted.
Defendant, a licensed private investigator, is hired by husband to determine whether his wife is cheating on him. After several weeks of investigation, Defendant provides husband with documentary evidence (e.g., pictures, video, hotel receipts, etc.) that wife is indeed cheating on him with husband’s neighbor. Husband confronts wife with the evidence of cheating and informs wife how he received it. Husband files for divorce. Wife files a police report asking for charges of stalking to be brought against Defendant. Defendant cannot be charged with stalking because he is a licensed private investigator performing services for a client in a lawful manner for a lawful purpose.2. Related Statutes/Articles
For other similar articles or related statutes to accessory before the fact, please see:
- S.C. Code Annotated 16-3-1710: 2nd Degree Harassment
- S.C. Code Annotated 16-3-1720: 1st Degree Harassment
- S.C. Code Annotated 16-25-20: Violation of Terms and Conditions of an Order of Protection
- Carolina Law Blog – Helpful Information and Insights into the Law
- Aggravated Battery Charges in South Carolina
- Felony Assault and Battery in South Carolina
If Defendant can prove that the words or conduct falls within a protection under the United States Constitution, then the Defendant should not be convicted under Section 16-3-1730. Additionally, this Section does not apply to a law enforcement officer or process server performing official duties OR a licensed private investigator performing services for a client.4. Penalties for a Conviction
The crime of stalking is a felony offense punishable by a maximum period of incarceration of 15 years in a South Carolina state penitentiary AND/OR a fine of $10,000. For the maximum penalty to apply, the Defendant must have a prior conviction of harassment or stalking in the previous 10 years.
If an injunction or restraining order prohibiting the conduct is in effect at the time of the offense, the Defendant is subject to a maximum period of incarceration of ten years in a South Carolina state penitentiary AND/OR a $7,000 fine.
If the Defendant is convicted of his or her first stalking offense, the crime is a felony crime punishable by a maximum period of incarceration of 5 years in a South Carolina state penitentiary AND/OR a $5,000 fine.5. Criminal Defense for Stalking
Stalking is a serious felony offense that can land you in state prison for a maximum of fifteen years. These charges also carry substantial stigma which could prevent you from obtaining employment, renting or buying a house or obtaining a loan.
Please call our experienced South Carolina criminal lawyer immediately at 704-342-4357.
Chris J. Beddow handles all criminal charges at Powers Law Firm, PA and is the is the sole SC criminal defense lawyer associated with the firm. Chris Beddow is also solely responsible for all South Carolina related content.