Bill to strengthen stalking laws headed to Governor Barbour
JACKSON, MS (WLOX) -
JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - A bill that will strengthen Mississippi's stalking laws is headed to the Governor's desk. If signed by Governor Haley Barbour, House Bill 1309 will revise and strengthen the definition of stalking and create more appropriate penalties.
Attorney General Jim Hood praised state lawmakers for supporting the bill, saying it will make prosecution easier.
"One of the biggest issues in our current stalking law is that it makes successful prosecution contingent upon being able to prove that the stalker intended to place his or her victim, not just in fear, but in fear of death or great bodily injury," said Attorney General Jim Hood.
The amendment will also create a new crime of aggravated stalking, which will be a felony.
The underlying behaviors which will constitute aggravated stalking are identical to the behaviors which constitute stalking, but if any of the following three conditions are met, it will be considered aggravated stalking:
The behavior involves the use or display of a weapon AND puts the victim in fear of death or serious bodily injury,
The stalker has a prior conviction of stalking against any victim, and that conviction is within seven years of the current offense,
The stalker is (or should be) registered as a sex offender and the victim is under the age of 18.
The penalty for aggravated stalking when conditions (1) or (2) exist is jail for no more than five years and a fine of no more than $3,000. The penalty if condition (3) exists is up to six years in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
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