At a glance, the term cyberstalking may seem like something out of a made-for-TV movie. Cyberstalking, however, is a very real crime in the state of Florida. As more and more people turn to social media and other internet-based means of connecting with other people, it is important to understand what behavior may put you at risk of facing a cyberstalking, or even aggravated cyberstalking, charge.
What Is It?
Florida law defines cyberstalking as the practice of engaging in a course of conduct to communicate words, images, or language directed at a certain person, through the use of email or other electronic communication, that causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no other legitimate purpose other than to inflict that distress.
Examples of actions that may fall under the definition of cyberstalking include:
- bullying a particular person via social media websites;
- posting private information about a particular person online in hopes to humiliate them;
- harassing a person by sending numerous and hurtful text messages and/or emails;
- trying to steal another person’s identity and acting as that person online; and
- sending another person sexually oriented text messages or emails.
Penalties for Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking is a first-degree misdemeanor in the state of Florida. If you are charged with the crime of cyberstalking, you may face up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
An even more serious crime is aggravated cyberstalking. Under Florida law, the crime of cyberstalking is elevated to the crime of aggravated cyberstalking when a credible threat is made to another person, with the intent to place that person under fear of serious bodily injury or death of themselves or a member of their immediate family. Aggravated cyberstalking is a third-degree felony in the state, and carries a punishment of up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
Why You Need an Attorney
Accusations of cyberstalking can be particularly terrifying because it is often hard to prove whether or not the behavior happened and, more importantly, whether the accused was actually the person to take those actions. Current technology makes it very possible that someone else can log into your social media and/or emails accounts and send harassing messages to others while appearing to be you. There have been cases in Florida in the recent past involving these actions that have made the lives of the accused absolutely miserable during the investigation process. This scary reality is just another reason why hiring a criminal defense attorney is absolutely necessary if you face a charge of cyberstalking or aggravated cyberstalking.
If you or someone you know has been charged with the crime of cyberstalking in Florida, contact experienced criminal defense attorney Mark S. Lowry today to discuss your situation. Mark Lowry is a qualified defense attorney who can help determine which defenses may be used on your behalf to fight the charge. Although only a misdemeanor, remember that any conviction on your record can cause serious damage to your future. Call us today to help fight the charge and protect your name.