There are few who could argue that the internet has paved the way for new possibilities when it comes to communication. However, there’s also a darker side to this new technological age: cyberstalking.
While the internet has made it easier to stay in touch with friends, family, and even work colleagues, it’s also made it easier for people to become targets of this kind of dangerous behavior. Cyberstalking may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but it can lead to serious legal consequences and even criminal charges if it’s done in a certain way. The skilled lawyers at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm can help answer any legal questions you may have surrounding cyberstalking and its potential ramifications.
What Is Online Stalking?
Commonly referred to as “cyberstalking,” this type of behavior is defined as harassing another person online. Cyberstalking may take different forms, such as posting abusive comments on social media platforms, sending threatening emails, or finding and posting someone else’s personal information.
Quite simply, cyberstalking is a form of harassment that can leave the victim feeling vulnerable, scared, and even threatened. Sadly, this type of behavior has become more and more common in recent years and is often difficult to detect or stop due to people being able to make private or fake accounts that don’t have their real information.
What Are the Legal Consequences of Cyberstalking?
It’s important to note that cyberstalking is a serious criminal offense and can result in equally serious legal consequences. In Louisiana, online stalking is considered a serious misdemeanor as the punishment does not require time spent at a state prison.
Only crimes that can involve jail or state prison time are considered felonies, while misdemeanors generally only involve a fine or probation. Moreover, an offender of cyberstalking can receive a fine in excess of $2,000 and may even face up to 180 days in jail.
Repeat Offenses of Online Stalking
If that same offender continues to commit cyberstalking offenses, the charges can become more severe and impose longer sentences.
For example, a second-time offender of online stalking in Louisiana can face a fine of up to $5,000 and jail time of up to three years. The second cyberstalking offense must occur within seven years in order for the perpetrator to face these more serious consequences.
Also, if a third offense is committed, the offender faces up to five years in jail and a fine of $5,000. As you can see, while Louisiana doesn’t classify online stalking as a felony, the state does have stiff penalties in place for anyone who engages in this type of behavior.
Can Cyberstalking Lead to Greater Criminal Charges?
Depending on the severity of the stalking, this kind of crime can lead to criminal charges that are felony offenses. If someone is cyberstalking another person and repeatedly posts threatening messages or personal information online, they could be charged with a misdemeanor.
However, if the harassment becomes more serious, such as stalking someone to the point of psychological distress or threatening physical harm, then it could result in felony charges as well.
How Can You Avoid Becoming a Victim?
If you’re the victim of cyberstalking, it’s important to take action quickly. There are several steps you can take to help protect yourself, such as blocking the stalker from any social media or email accounts, changing your passwords regularly, and reporting the behavior to law enforcement.
It’s also important to document any instances of cyberstalking and keep records of all messages sent by the offender. Perhaps most importantly of all, you should speak with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your rights and legal options.
Protect Your Rights by Contacting a Qualified Attorney at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm
At John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm, we understand how frightening it can be to become a victim of cyberstalking. Fortunately, we have years of experience helping clients navigate these difficult cases and are available to provide guidance and support throughout the process.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of cyberstalking, contact Attorney Eric G. Johnson or anyone else on our skilled legal team today to schedule a free consultation. Call (318) 377-1555 or reach out online to get started.