New bill may make stalking easier to prosecute - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

New bill may make stalking easier to prosecute

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The current law makes it difficult for prosecutors to prove a stalking offense if they use different methods of stalking. But a recent bill passed by the Texas State Legislature could make a difference.

According to the Women's Center of East Texas, stalking does not have to be someone hiding in your bushes watching you, following every move you make.  Shannon Trest says, stalking can be much more subtle, "There's all different ways of stalking, it's not simply following that person around."

"She would get several calls on her phone every single day or night, it didn't really matter," says one victim's advocate, Mary Aguilar.

With social media and cell phone tracking, stalkers can find their victims with just a click. 

Trest says, "I think people have always looked at stalking as a little bit benign and not realized how critical it was and how it leads to continue to lead to other things."

The Texas House passed Senate Bill 82, authored by Texas State Senator Jane Nelson.  Nelson says this bill will help better protect stalking victims, and provide better tools for prosecutors to find stalkers.

The Women's Center of East Texas says there is a high connection between stalking, abuse, and even murder.

"It's a form of abuse, and it's a form of control, he wants to control everything she does, so obviously he needs to know where she's at, he has to know what she's doing, and where she's going and who she's hanging out with," says Aguilar.

The East Texas Women's Center says reporting any suspicious stalking behavior is key to stopping the crime.

If Governor Perry signs the stalking bill, the definition of stalking would be expanded.  It would include actions on top of following a victim, and repeated actions of the same kind, like calling over and over.

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