Stalking and Cyberstalking
In California, it is a crime to commit cyberstalking under Penal Code section 646.9. If you or someone you know has been charged with a cyberstalking crime in Orange County, it is important that you contact an Orange County cyberstalking lawyer immediately so that they can assess your case and provide next steps. Cyberstalking can be committed in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, threatening, obscene, or hateful emails; voicemails; text messages; social media posts; web pages; and phone calls. Simply put, cyberstalking means harassing a person by the use of credible threats using electronic communications. These communications must make the recipient or the recipient’s family reasonably fear for their safety.
To be prove that a person is guilty of this crime, the prosecution must prove that:
- The defendant willfully and maliciously harassed or repeatedly followed another person
- The defendant made a credible threat with the intent to place the other person in reasonable fear for their safety or for the safety of their immediate family
To determine if a course of conduct indicates a pattern indicative of cyberstalking there only needs to be two or more acts that demonstrate a continuous purpose. Harassment can take many forms and is defined in Penal Code section 646.9 as conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, torments, or terrorizes the person and that serves no legitimate purpose. Cyberstalking is unique in that it is carried out specifically over electronic communication devices. Cyberstalking can take place across a wide variety of electronic communication devices such as telephones, cell phones, computers, video recording devices, and even fax machines and (although it may seem strange) pagers. If you believe that you may be facing cyberstalking charges, retaining an experienced cyberstalking attorney in Orange County is crucial to your case.
Additionally, cyberstalking is a specific intent crime, which means that the prosecution must prove that the defendant’s intent in sending the electronic communications was to place recipient or their immediate family members in fear for their safety. However, cyberstalking was added into the California Penal Code to ensure that victims of cyberstalking would be protected even if the alleged harasser was not capable of carrying out the threats. It is enough if the recipient of the harassment/threats reasonably believed the threat to be credible or was reasonably in fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family members.
In Orange County, domestic violence cases are some of the cases most often associated with cyberstalking. When relationships sour, many people driven by emotion, tend to want to maintain control and may resort to cyberstalking. In many cases where there is a domestic violence charge, the defendant may also be charged with either stalking or cyberstalking. However, almost anyone is vulnerable to cyberstalking due to our society’s reliance on electronic devices and online sharing platforms. If you face domestic violence charges or any other type of charges and believe that cyberstalking charges may also be filed against you, it is very important that you seek out the counsel of a cyberstalking attorney in Orange County.
Cyberstalking can be punished either as a misdemeanor or a felony based on a defendant’s prior convictions. Anyone charged with a stalking or cyberstalking crime should enlist the immediate assistance of an attorney experienced in this area of criminal law. The prosecutor must prove both elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt for the defendant to be convicted. Sometimes, the evidence for one or more of these elements is not very strong which enables the defense attorney to argue for dismissal, a reduced charge, or a more lenient sentence.
Orange County cyberstalking lawyer, William Weinberg has many years of experience defending clients charged in stalking cases. He will consider your case free of charge and advise you of your options. To reach him please contact his Irvine office at (949) 474-8008 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.