Understanding Stalking Laws in Texas: What You Need to Know

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Introduction to Stalking Laws in Texas

Stalking is a serious offense that can have significant legal consequences in Texas. Defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific individual that causes fear or concern for their safety, stalking is considered a form of harassment and is prohibited by law. In Texas, statutes outline the elements of stalking and establish penalties for individuals convicted of this crime. Understanding the laws surrounding stalking is crucial to prevent and address instances of this harmful behavior.

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What Constitutes Stalking in Texas?

Stalking behavior encompasses various actions that can range from unwanted communication to physical surveillance and threats. In Texas, stalking is defined under Section 42.072 of the Texas Penal Code. According to the statute, stalking occurs when a person knowingly engages in conduct that the individual knows or reasonably believes would cause another person to feel harassed, frightened, intimidated, or threatened.

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Examples of stalking behavior can include:

  1. Following or surveilling the victim.
  2. Making unwanted phone calls, texts, or emails.
  3. Sending unwanted gifts or letters.
  4. Monitoring the victim’s online activity or social media accounts.
  5. Showing up uninvited at the victim’s home, workplace, or other locations frequented by the victim.
  6. Making threats of violence or harm against the victim or their loved ones.

It’s essential to note that stalking behavior is not limited to physical proximity but can also occur through various forms of communication and online interaction.

Penalties for Stalking in Texas

In Texas, stalking is typically classified as a felony offense. The severity of the offense and the corresponding penalties depend on various factors, including the nature of the conduct, any prior criminal history of the offender, and whether the victim suffered any physical harm or emotional distress as a result of the stalking.

Generally, stalking in Texas is categorized as follows:

  1. Third-Degree Felony: Stalking is considered a third-degree felony if the offender has previously been convicted of stalking the same victim or a member of the victim’s family, or if the stalking behavior involves a violation of a court order or injunction.
  2. Second-Degree Felony: Stalking can be elevated to a second-degree felony if the offender has a prior conviction for certain offenses, such as stalking with a deadly weapon or aggravated kidnapping, or if the stalking behavior involves certain aggravating factors, such as using a weapon or causing bodily injury to the victim.

Penalties for stalking in Texas can include imprisonment, fines, probation, and mandatory counseling or treatment programs. Additionally, individuals convicted of stalking may be subject to protective orders or restraining orders to prevent further contact with the victim.

Legal Protections for Stalking Victims

Recognizing the serious threat that stalking poses to victims, Texas law provides legal protections and remedies for individuals who have been subjected to stalking behavior. Victims of stalking may seek assistance from law enforcement agencies to report incidents of stalking and obtain protective orders to restrict the offender’s contact with them.

Protective orders, also known as restraining orders, can include provisions such as:

  1. Prohibiting the offender from contacting or communicating with the victim.
  2. Ordering the offender to stay a certain distance away from the victim’s home, workplace, or other specified locations.
  3. Mandating the surrender of firearms or other weapons owned by the offender.
  4. Establishing temporary custody or visitation arrangements for any children involved.
  5. Requiring the offender to attend counseling or treatment programs.

Victims of stalking in Texas have the right to seek legal recourse and protection from the court system to ensure their safety and well-being.


Stalking is a serious offense that can have lasting consequences for victims and offenders alike. In Texas, laws are in place to prohibit and punish stalking behavior, recognizing the harm it inflicts on individuals and communities. By understanding the elements of stalking and the legal protections available, individuals can take steps to prevent and address instances of stalking, ensuring the safety and security of all members of society. If you or someone you know is experiencing stalking behavior, it’s essential to seek help from law enforcement and support services to address the situation effectively.

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