How To Know When Online Actions Constitute Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is a series of behaviors that are repeated against an individual online. By being exposed to cyberstalking, an individual might believe that their life is in danger or may experience severe emotional distress. However, there are specific requirements that must be met to be charged with cyberstalking without having your First Amendment rights violated. If you believe that you are being falsely accused of cyberstalking, you should contact a criminal lawyer with experience with computer crimes.

The Definition of Cyberstalking

When you are accused of cyberstalking, you'll want to find out exactly what is considered cyberstalking in your state so you can determine if your actions would fall under the definition. Oftentimes, you will need to first make a credible threat. This means that there must be a believable risk that you may cause physical harm to the other party. Then, you must either place the victim under surveillance, make repeated attempts to contact the victim, or make attempts to reach out to those with a relationship with the victim.

Another situation is where you cause the other party to experience severe emotional distress. You must also repeatedly stalk or approach the individual on the internet, place them under surveillance, or contact those associated with them. The courts must also determine that the emotional distress suffered is something that a reasonable individual would be distressed by.

Examples of Cyberstalking

Sending repeated messages through any medium, such as social media or email, can be considered cyberstalking. Threatening behaviors such as threatening to show up at the victim's work or taking pictures of the victim's phone are also considered cyberstalking. Even talking about and spreading rumors of the other party can fall under this definition.

Defenses Against Cyberstalking

If you are accused of making a threat, the criminal defense attorney might argue that it's not a credible threat. For example, threatening to have the Canadian military invade the victim's hometown would not be considered credible. You may try to argue that the statement would not be considered a threat within the context that you were in. For example, some online communities have their own lingo that might sound violent when it has a non-violent meaning.

Posting information may not fall under cyberstalking if it is publicly available information. Also, your defense attorney might argue that the behavior shouldn't be considered emotionally distressful. For example, posting a negative review of a business might not be considered emotionally distressful to the owner according to the legal standards. However, you'll always want to speak with a criminal defense attorney to make sure.

For more information about criminal law and cyberstalking, contact a local law office.