Posted on 11/21/16

Last June, Carrolton police arrested Babak Taherzadeh and charged him with stalking, a third-degree felony. The police alleged that Taherzadeh used social media to stalk state district judge Brandon Bingham. Bingham presided over a case wherein Taherzadeh faced harassment charges for sending threatening texts to his brother-in-law. As part of the ruling, Judge Bingham ordered Taherzadeh to stay off social media. Later, Bingham started receiving threatening messages via social media from Taherzadeh, police reports claim.

Texas law considers both harassment and stalking to be crimes. Harassment is a misdemeanor whereas stalking is a felony.


Harassment is a Class B misdemeanor, which has a punishment of not more than 180 days in a county jail and a fine of not more than $2,000. However, if this is the second offense where the person has a prior harassment conviction then the charge becomes a Class A misdemeanor, which could mean up to a year in county jail and fines up to $4,000.

The Texas Penal Code provides that a person commits the crime of harassment by calling, writing, or emailing someone with the intention of scaring, embarrassing, annoying or tormenting that person. The Code further explains that a person who solicits or describes sex acts, threatens to harm the targeted person or that person’s family, falsely reports the death or serious injury of a third party, lets the phone ring over and over, or repeatedly sends e-mails then that person can be charged with harassment.



Stalking is a felony. For the first offense, the Code provides that stalking would be a third-degree felony that is punishable by two to 10 years in a state prison and a fine of not more than $10,000. For a second offense with a prior conviction, the offense of stalking becomes a second-degree felony, which has a punishment of two to 20 years in a state prison.

Stalking is defined as any repeated conduct that gives another, or another member of the person’s family, the reasonable fear that the person might kill or seriously injure them, or even damage their property. While the statute includes physically following someone as a form of stalking, it does not require that the offense be committed in person.

The Taherzadeh case is a good of example of stalking without committing the crime in person. The police allege that Taherzadeh stalked Judge Bingham through social media. The charge does not specify that Taherzadeh stalked in person.


There are various defenses to a stalking charge. One defense is reasonableness, meaning that the defendant will counter that the person expressing fear was unreasonable. The facts of circumstances will determine whether such is a practical defense. People post things on social media all the time. To be guilty of stalking, it must rise to the level where the alleged victim reasonably believes that he or she is in danger. If it is not a reasonable fear then there can be no stalking conviction.

If you have been accused of stalking or harassing, know that these are serious charges. Contact the law firm of Christopher Abel, a board-certified Dallas-area defense attorney.

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