What to Do If Accused of Cyberstalking?
When a person is accused of cyberstalking, they may be tempted to try to talk their way out of trouble, or maybe try to delete all the evidence. However, cyberstalking is a serious criminal charge that can carry serious criminal penalties. If you are contacted, investigated, or arrested by law enforcement for cyberstalking, exercising your right to remain silent until you have an attorney present is likely the best course of action any person can take.
Depending on state law, cyberstalking charges generally require repeated attempts to harass, threaten, intimidate, or scare another person via the internet, or other electronic mediums. However, singular incidents may also violate other laws designed to protect against cyberbullying and harassment.
The Internet Is Forever
While some people who are accused of cyberstalking may attempt to remove the allegedly offensive content from the internet, if the communication was sent to another, or posted online, these attempts may be futile. Most websites, service providers, and internet search engines archive data, messages, and posts. Additionally, while removing the content may mitigate some damages for an alleged victim, it doesn't reverse the damage already done.
However, there are defenses that can be asserted. Famously, a man who was charged and convicted for posting messages online that his ex-wife understood as death threats successfully asserted on appeal that the posts were actually a creative attempt at writing rap lyrics, despite the fact those lyrics included language about killing his ex-wife. The Supreme Court found that without an intent to harass, a conviction could not be supported.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
To be proven guilty for cyberstalking, a prosecutor generally must prove that accused indeed was the harasser, or stalker, that the conduct was unwanted, unwelcome, or abusive, and the defendant intended the conduct to cause harm.
Cyberstalking, like all criminal charges, requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused actually committed the crime alleged. As such, the more information a person charged with any crime provides to law enforcement, the more difficult their case will be to defend. Any person charged with a crime should retain an attorney at the earliest possible time.
- Facing criminal charges? Get your case reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury - Criminal)
- 5 Ways You Can Get Charged With Stalking (FindLaw Blotter)
- State Computer Crime Laws (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- What Are the Criminal Penalties for Hacking? (FindLaw Blotter)
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