Florida Man Faces Cyberstalking Charges
Technology has made our lives easier in many ways. Unfortunately, it has also made it easier to commit crimes. Stalking is an example of a crime that is easy to commit online. Instead of physically following a person, you can now do it online and cause a significant amount of harm. This is called cyberstalking and it can result in serious criminal charges.
A 26-year-old Florida man was arrested on December 14 after threatening a woman online. For three weeks, the woman had received threatening messages on Facebook from the man. The harassment started when the man got into a fight with the woman’s fiance in Jacksonville Beach. The man then tried to convince the woman to leave her fiance and meet with him instead.
The woman ignored the man’s advances, but he continually harassed her. He threatened her online, claiming that he knew where she lived and what college she went to. The man is facing cyberstalking charges and is being held without bail.
What the Law Says
Under Florida Statutes 784.048, cyberstalking is defined as using electronic communication in the form of words, language or images to communicate with a person in a way that serves no legitimate purpose and causes emotional distress to the receiver of the message. A person who repeatedly follows, harasses or stalks a person commits stalking, which is a first degree misdemeanor. Once a person threatens another, it becomes aggravated stalking, which is a third degree felony. Aggravated stalking also occurs when the recipient is under the age of 16 or when there is a protective injunction or no-contact order in place.
A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by a $1,000 fine and one year in jail. A third degree felony can result in five years in prison, five years of probation and a fine of $5,000.
If you are accused of cyberstalking, there are several defenses you can use. For example, you can claim mistaken identity. Sometimes social media accounts can get hacked and another person can then pose as you. Sometimes a person is falsely accused. People sometimes try to seek revenge on former lovers by accusing them of things they didn’t do, and cyberstalking may be one of them.
Also, freedom of speech is often confused with cyberstalking. The internet allows people to express their feelings, no matter how controversial they may be. When a person disagrees with your point of view, that is not cyberstalking. However, if the person continually harasses or threatens you, that line has been crossed.
Get Legal Help Today
Cyberstalking may not seem like a serious crime because it is done from behind a computer, but it can still result in jail time. A person can face felony charges for such a crime.
Under Florida law, you can be arrested without a warrant and have a restraining order against you. Protect your legal rights by seeking legal help from the Gainesville criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Gilbert A. Schaffnit. To schedule a free telephone consultation, contact us at (352) 505-1799.