The New York Criminal Law Blog

3 Ways Love Can Lead to Jail Time

Love can be a roller coaster. But it can also lead to some serious legal trouble.

In some cases, it can make a person become so overwhelmed with emotion that he or she could be charged with a crime. Just ask former tennis star Jennifer Capriati, who has been charged with battery and stalking. She's not in jail, but she will be appearing in a Florida court to answer for the alleged acts against her ex-boyfriend.

Here are three ways that love can potentially become criminal:

Stalking

Stalking is really pretty simple. It's pursuing someone who doesn't want you around. But it's not the simple act of chasing someone. It's a little more than that. A stalking charge is based on a series of ongoing events. The events and actions must entail harassment or threats of intimidation in order for the charge to be taken seriously. In New York, it's enough to repeatedly call someone on the phone and cause them emotional harm, according to the Penal Code.

Domestic Abuse and Battery

Battery is the intentional, forceful, harmful, and offensive touching of another, without their consent. Domestic abuse is like battery, except that it involves a romantic relationship or familial relationship between the parties.

Murder

People kill for love. And love definitely drives some people to murder, whether it's the killing of a loved one who upset them or the killing of a third party, such as in the case of infidelity.

In some cases, a love-based murder can help to mitigate a criminal charge to some degree. For example, a charge of first-degree murder may be brought down to second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter in some cases, where the heat of passion defense can be invoked.

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