It is against the law in the state of California for a person to stalk someone via an “electronic communication device.” Stalking is defined as harassing or threatening a person to the point that they fear for their safety or for the safety of their family. Keep reading to learn what the prosecution must prove in these cases, and then contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 if you are facing charges for this or another cybercrime.
Defining Electronic Communication Devices
In order to fully understand this crime, we must define what the courts consider to be an “electronic communication device.” As you would expect, this does include e-mails, texts, and social media messages. However, it can also include any contact via the internet, contact via a fax message, leaving video messages, or any other type of contact via an electronic device.
Examples of Cyberstalking
To better understand this crime, let us discuss some examples of it. If you send emails that are unwanted, unsolicited, threatening, or harassing, then you might be guilty of cyberstalking. If you send texts or instant messages that are disturbing or that include explicit messages or photos, then you might be committing cyberstalking. Pretending to be someone else in a chat room and writing things on their behalf, posting embarrassing information about a person, or posting personal injury about another person in order to harass them can all be considered cyberstalking.
The Prosecutor Must Prove Several Elements of This Crime
In order for the prosecutor to get a guilty verdict, they must prove a number of elements. They must prove that you maliciously and/or willfully harassed someone, that you made a credible threat against them, the alleged victim was in reasonable fear for their own safety or that of their family, and that the threats were communicated via means of an electronic communication device.
Potential Penalties for a Cyberstalking Conviction
Cyberstalking is what’s known as a wobbler offense, which means that the prosecution can decide if it should be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. They will look at the specifics of the case and whether or not you have been convicted of a past crime to determine how you should be charged today.
A misdemeanor conviction can lead to a year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. A conviction for felony cyberstalking can result in up to five years in state prison, fines of up to $1,000, and the potential to have to register for life as a sex offender.
As you can see, the consequences can be serious. This is just one of the reasons to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. You can call Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 now to request a free legal consultation.