It's 2023, and society has come a long way as far as communication is concerned. It's easier than ever to stay in touch with the people you grew up with, the people you date, your criminal defense lawyer, and even people you have never met. You can email, text, send a direct message, FaceTime, Zoom, call, fax, etc. But, with so many ways to communicate, it has become easier to reach people who may not want to be reached. Thus, you should be careful that your communications and/or attempted communications do not rise to the point where you are cyberstalking someone.
Cyberstalking is the action of using electronic mail or other electronic communication of any words or language to do any of the following activities:
1. Threaten to inflict bodily harm to someone or to someone's child, sibling, spouse, or dependent, or physical injury to the property of someone, or to extort money for financial gain or other things of value from someone.
2. Communicate to another person repeatedly, regardless of whether a conversation ensues, for the purpose of threatening, terrifying, or harassing someone.
3. To knowingly make any false statement concerning death, injury, illness, disfigurement, indecent conduct, or criminal conduct of the person electronically mailed or of any member of the person's family or household with the intent to threaten, terrify, or harass.
4. Knowingly permit an electronic communication device under your control to be used for the purposes identified in (1), (2), or (3) above.
As previously indicated, any of the previously mentioned actions meet the definition of cyberstalking and can potentially expose you to criminal liability. A first offense of cyberstalking can expose you to a fine of up to $2,000.00 dollars, or up to a year in jail, or both.
Additionally, the penalties get more severe with each conviction. If you are convicted for a second time, within a seven year period of a prior conviction for cyberstalking, you shall be imprisoned for at least 180 days and up to three years, and you may be fined up to $5,000.00 dollars, or both. If you are convicted for a third time, within a seven year period of a prior conviction for stalking, you must be imprisoned for at least two years and potentially up to five years, and you can be fined up to $5,000.00 or both.
Notably, the law does not prohibit any "peaceable, nonviolent, or nonthreatening activity intended to express political views or to provide lawful information to others." Thus, if you or someone you know has been charged with cyberstalking, you should contact a criminal defense attorney and have them take a look at your case.
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