Can a person be arrested on harassment or stalking charges without consent of the alleged victim?

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Can a person be arrested on harassment or stalking charges without consent of the alleged victim?

At my apartment complex a couple years ago the security guard, who was also a county deputy sheriff, gave one of my co-workers access to my apartment without my knowledge or consent. She found my journals and somehow copied them. In the journals I discussed interest in someone I had known casually for several years who is also a musician. She hired a PI to obtain e-mails I sent to him and used them with the journal to convince our employer that I was stalking him. When he was contacted, he denied being harassed by me. Can they use it to file charges against me and arrest me?

Asked on October 29, 2010 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Legally, charges can be fired without the alleged victim's consent, since it is the state, not the victim, bringing them. However, there are some specific charges that are criminal only if the victim feels victimized. For example, consensual sex is not rape or sexual assault. Similarly, it is difficulty to imagine that someonw could be harassed by someone if he didn't notice, didn't mind, or even welcomed the attention--a key element of harassment would seem to be missing. That said, if charges are in fact filed, though you may have a good defense, you should still take it seriously and retain a lawyer to help you. Also consider bringing your own charges or civil cause of action against the guard and/or the coworker for trespassing, for violation of your privacy, for harassment, and possibly for defamation as well. You should discuss the situation with an attorney who can evaluate possible causes of action for you.


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