Pennsylvania Stalking Defense Lawyer | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys

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Accused of Stalking in PA? Our Attorneys Can Help

At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, our Pennsylvania sex crime defense lawyers understand how quickly some situations can get out of hand and result in damaging allegations like stalking. While many promptly judge and assume you’re guilty, our Pennsylvania stalking lawyers are here to listen to your side of the story.  We can provide an aggressive defense if you’re charged with stalking and will work to protect you against conviction, preserve your standing, and secure the best possible outcome.

For a free and confidential case evaluation with an experienced stalking lawyer in Pennsylvania, call (412) 281-2146 or submit a request online. Worgul, Sarna & Ness accepts cases statewide and is ready to fight for you.

Statewide Representation for Sex Offenses

Based in Pittsburgh, Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys offer comprehensive and aggressive legal representation for those accused of sex offenses throughout the Commonwealth.

332 Fifth Avenue, 1st Floor,
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-2437


Pennsylvania Stalking Charges

Pennsylvania law (23 Pa.C.S. § 2709.1) defines stalking as engaging in a pattern of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward someone, such as following or communicating, that demonstrates an intent to place the person in fear of bodily injury or cause significant emotional distress.

Stalking charges typically hinge on several key elements that must be established for a conviction under Pennsylvania law:

  • Course of Conduct: This refers to a pattern of behavior rather than an isolated incident. It includes actions such as following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening, or communicating with someone, either directly or indirectly.
  • Repeated Acts: Stalking involves repeated behavior, not just a one-time event. The law usually requires more than one occurrence to demonstrate a continuity of purpose.
  • Intent: The perpetrator must intend to cause fear or emotional distress. This means the actions are not accidental or coincidental but done to affect the victim.
  • Reasonable Fear or Substantial Emotional Distress: The victim must experience a reasonable fear of bodily injury or significant emotional distress. “Reasonable” is assessed from the viewpoint of a person in the victim’s position, considering all the circumstances.
  • No Legitimate Purpose: The actions taken by the accused must not serve a legitimate purpose. This ensures that activities such as law enforcement surveillance or investigative reporting do not typically constitute stalking.

The Difference Between Harassment & Stalking

Stalking differs from other offenses like harassment and domestic violence-related charges in its repetitive nature and the intent to induce fear or emotional distress.

Essentially, you commit stalking when you repeatedly and knowingly do something that would cause someone fear that they would be injured or emotionally distressed. For example, if you sit in the parking lot at your ex-wife’s office daily, knowing it frightens and upsets her. This includes communication, so sending hundreds of threatening texts to your ex-husband’s new girlfriend would also be considered stalking.

It is also stalking if you repeatedly communicate in ways that you know will cause another person to fear they will be injured or that will cause them substantial emotional distress. For example, sending hundreds of threatening texts to your ex-husband’s new girlfriend.

What Qualifies as Stalking Under Pennsylvania Law?

Stalking behaviors can vary widely, but here are some examples of unwanted and intrusive actions that may be considered criminal.

Physically Following or Surveillance

Consistently following a person, showing up at their workplace, home, or other places they frequent without a legitimate reason, and often without their knowledge or consent.

Unwanted Communication

Sending repeated messages through various channels — phone calls, texts, emails, or social media — despite being asked to stop. This can also include sending unwanted gifts or letters.

Property Monitoring

Watching someone’s home or property with devices like cameras or GPS trackers without consent.

Threats& Intimidation

Making threats to harm the individual, their loved ones, or even pets. This can instill fear for personal safety and is a significant indicator of stalking behavior.

Information Gathering

Illegally obtaining private information about the person, such as accessing personal records, online hacking, or using social engineering to gather information from third parties.

Social Sabotage

Interfering with a person’s social or professional life, such as spreading rumors, making false accusations to friends or employers, or attempting to damage their relationships with others.

Manipulation through Fear

Engaging in behaviors that don’t directly threaten but induce a fear of violence or harm, such as vague or ambiguous messages with an undertone of menace.


Persistent online harassment, which might include sending unwanted messages, posting personal information or threats, or manipulating the victim’s online presence and digital accounts.

Violation of Protective Orders

Ignoring the terms of a legally issued restraining or protective order by continuing to contact or approach the protected individual.

These examples may be deemed stalking when they cause the victim to fear for their safety or the safety of others or when they induce substantial emotional distress. In legal terms, these criminal behaviors must be intentional, involve multiple incidents (thus showing a pattern), and lack a legitimate purpose. Remember, each case is unique, and the context of the behavior and the individuals involved are critically important in determining whether the behavior meets the legal definition of stalking.

If you are accused of stalking in Pennsylvania, it is crucial to consult an experienced defense lawyer. This is the best way to assess your situation and develop the best approach to your case to protect your rights and interests.

Penalties for Stalking in Pennsylvania

Stalking in Pennsylvania can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the circumstances and any prior offenses.

Misdemeanor Stalking

When someone is charged with stalking for the first time, and no aggravating factors are present, it is typically classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. This is the most severe misdemeanor in Pennsylvania and can result in a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.

Felony Stalking

If an individual has a previous stalking conviction and is convicted of stalking again, the charges can be elevated to a third-degree felony. The escalation in charges reflects the increased risk posed by someone who persists in such behavior despite prior legal intervention.

The situation becomes even more grave if the stalking involves a person who was a victim of a violent offense in the past. A conviction for a third-degree felony stalking charge can lead to a sentence of up to 7 years imprisonment.

Protection From Abuse (PFA) Orders

In addition to criminal penalties, victims of stalking can seek immediate and proactive protection through the civil court system with a Protection from Abuse order. A PFA is designed to provide rapid relief by legally barring the alleged stalker from contacting the victim.

PFA orders stipulate that the accused must maintain a certain physical distance from the victim. Violating a PFA order is a separate criminal offense that can result in additional charges, which may lead to further penalties, including fines and imprisonment, independent of the outcome of the original stalking charge.

PFAs may also include a variety of provisions, such as eviction from a shared residence, custody changes, firearm restrictions, and mandated counseling, depending on the situation.

Defending Stalking Charges in PA

For those facing stalking allegations or formal charges, it’s crucial to obtain a knowledgeable defense attorney who understands the nuances of Pennsylvania’s stalking laws and can provide a defense strategy tailored to the complexities of your cases.

At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, our stalking defense lawyers realize that behind every charge is a person’s entire life and future at stake. With deep experience and prior success handling stalking protection orders, harassment, and related behaviors across Pennsylvania, we stress the absolute necessity of professional legal representation in such intricate, sensitive, and ultimately high-stakes cases.

Legal Defenses for Stalking Charges

Every stalking case carries its own set of facts, nuances, and personal stories. While you may think your situation is easily explained or has been blown out of proportion, you could be making things worse by speaking to the police or making statements without a lawyer’s help.

After an in-depth investigation, here are some potential defenses our skilled defense lawyers may employ:

Disprove Intent

A critical aspect of a stalking charge is the requisite intent to instill fear or emotional distress. We will meticulously scrutinize your actions and their context to unearth evidence that refutes the prosecution’s claims about your intent. We aim to demonstrate that any alleged behavior was not meant to harass or intimidate but perhaps was misinterpreted or misconstrued.

Challenge Evidence

The evidence in a stalking case against you is not infallible. We’ll dissect the prosecution’s case, looking for gaps and weaknesses that may exist in their narrative. This may involve questioning the methods used to collect evidence or highlighting how the supposed evidence does not support the elements of stalking as defined by law.

Validate Your Alibi

If you have an alibi, we leave no stone unturned to substantiate it. We’ll collect and present time-stamped receipts, video footage, witness statements, and any other evidence confirming your presence elsewhere at the time of the alleged incidents. A solid alibi can be a powerful part of your defense.

Highlight Inconsistencies

Our stalking attorneys will thoroughly examine the accuser’s statements and compare them against available evidence. Inconsistencies or changes in their story can undermine the credibility of their account and can be instrumental in building your defense. An accuser’s credibility is paramount in a stalking case, where much of the prosecution’s narrative may rely on their testimony.

Engage Experts

Expert witnesses can play a vital role in your defense, whether they are psychologists who testify about the interpersonal dynamics of the involved parties, tech experts who cast doubt on electronic evidence, or private investigators who can corroborate your alibi. Their professional insights can challenge the prosecution’s assertions and introduce reasonable doubt.

Attorney Matthew Ness Will Listen & Fight for You

As a defense attorney, Matthew Ness believes that the rights of people accused of crimes are worth upholding and fighting for. He does that every day as a trial defense lawyer. Matthew upholds his clients’ rights to fair and speedy trials, just punishment, and not having rights violated. He’s ready to help you in your sex crimes case. He understands what’s at stake.

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Pennsylvania Stalking FAQs

Can Stalking Charges be Dropped in Pennsylvania?

Yes, stalking charges can be dropped or dismissed in Pennsylvania. This may occur if the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence or your stalking lawyer successfully demonstrates that the actions do not meet the legal definition of stalking. Remember, the decision to drop charges ultimately lies with the prosecutor’s office, so charges may potentially continue even if the alleged victim withdraws their complaint.

How Can a Defense Attorney Help with Stalking Charges in Pennsylvania?

A defense attorney can help by evaluating the case details, developing a defense strategy, negotiating with the prosecution, representing the accused in court, and ensuring the accused’s rights are protected throughout the legal process. A knowledgeable attorney may also be able to identify legal grounds for the charges to be reduced or dismissed.

What Should You Do if You’re Accused of Stalking in Pennsylvania?

If you’re charged with stalking in Pennsylvania, do not engage in any communication with the alleged victim or discuss your case with law enforcement without legal representation. An attorney can guide you on the best course of action, help protect your rights, and work towards the most favorable outcome. Remember, everything you say and do can be used in court, so handling the situation carefully and under legal advisement is important.

Why Choose Worgul, Sarna & Ness?

Our attorneys bring a wealth of experience and prior success in assisting people in avoiding stalking and harassment convictions. Our Pennsylvania criminal defense law firm is recognized for:

  • Skill & Impressive Results in Sex Offense Cases
  • Exhaustive Independent Investigations & Tailored Strategies
  • Client-Focused Representation & Comprehensive Advocacy
  • Statewide Availability & Ongoing Legal Support

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Absolutely amazing, substantially better results than what I thought, very aggressive in defending people, would 110% recommend these guys every time!


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Notable Case Results

Acquittal for Client Charged With Multiple Sex Crimes

When an Allegheny County man was falsely accused of raping his minor daughter, he trusted the accomplished sex crimes defense attorneys at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, LLC to protect his reputation.

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Accused of Stalking in PA? Get a Free Consultation

If you’re facing charges for stalking anywhere in Pennsylvania or have been accused of behaviors meant to intimidate or threaten, you need to take the matter seriously and seek immediate legal counsel. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, our team handles sex offense cases across the state and crafts effective defenses to protect your reputation, rights, and freedom.

Don’t wait to protect yourself. Call (412) 281-2146 or submit a request 24/7 for a free consultation. An experienced defense lawyer will explain your options and what comes next.