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On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024

When can the police charge you with federal stalking charges?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2024 | Criminal Law

Stalking includes repeated harassment, threats, or intimidation that causes fear or emotional distress. And while Pennsylvania has its own state stalking laws, stalking can also be a federal crime. Understanding what triggers federal charges can help clarify the legal boundaries.

Crossing state lines

Stalking becomes a federal offense when the stalker crosses state lines to pursue or harass the victim. This extends beyond physical travel. Federal stalking also includes using mail or electronic communications that cross state boundaries. The federal government has jurisdiction because the crime extends beyond one state’s borders. 

Involvement of federal property or officials

Targeting federal officials or employees, and stalking on federal property, can lead to federal charges. For example, harassing someone within a national park falls under federal jurisdiction. So does stalking a federal judge or other federal employee. These cases get special attention due to the involvement of federal assets or personnel.

Use of electronic communication

Using electronic communication devices to stalk can escalate the charges to the federal level. This includes emails, text messages, social media, and other forms of digital contact. The interstate nature of electronic communication can bring the case under federal law.

Impact on interstate commerce

When someone’s actions affect another person’s ability to conduct business across state lines, they may find themselves facing federal charges. This applies to business owners, employees, and anyone whose interstate commercial activities suffer due to stalking.

Importance of understanding federal laws

Understanding federal stalking laws helps people recognize the severity of crossing state lines or involving federal elements in their actions. Knowing the consequences can deter potential stalkers and encourage people who have experienced stalking to seek help from authorities who can enforce these laws and bring about federal cases.

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