With the rise in technology use, the government is beginning to take notice of threats made online. Authorities now look closely at what individuals say on the internet and scrutinize alleged criminal activity. Cyberstalking is currently making headlines. With people posting many details of their personal lives on the internet, it can be difficult to determine what constitutes cyberstalking.
Cyberstalking refers to the act of using the internet, email, or social media to stalk or engage in illicit activity. Often, cyberstalking correlates with sexual connotations. Causing an individual to feel threatened or mentally distressed because of online sexual solicitations can qualify as cyberstalking. Ohio upholds cyberstalking laws known as “Menacing by Stalking.”
Ohio’s revised code 2903.211 establishes Menace by Stalking as,
(1) No person by engaging in a pattern of conduct shall knowingly cause another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to the other person.
(2) No person, through the use of any electronic method of remotely transferring information, including, but not limited to, any computer, computer network, computer program, or computer system, shall post a message with purpose to urge or incite another to commit a violation of division (A)(1) of this section.
(3) No person, with a sexual motivation, shall violate division (A)(1) or (2) of this section.
Consequences of Cyberstalking
In Ohio, the Cyber Crimes Unit of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation examine cyberstalking cases. If convicted, most accused individuals face a first degree misdemeanor. This can mean up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
However, certain circumstances can classify a cyberstalking charge as a fourth degree felony. These circumstances include:
- The accused made a direct threat of physical harm
- The accused trespassed
- The accused has multiple cyberstalking charges
- The alleged victim was under 18 years of age
- The accused has a protection order filed against them at the time
- The accused as a history of violence
- The accused had a deadly weapon
- The alleged victim or their property suffered physical harm
Cyberstalking charges are serious. If you were accused of the act, you need to seek legal counsel immediately. At Koffel Brininger Nesbitt, we believe you deserve due process of the law. You are innocent until proven guilty. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.