Cyberstalking, the Crime
In today’s world where just about everyone has a smartphone and communication is often completely digital, cyberstalking has become one of the more common criminal charges seen in the justice system. North Carolina’s law against cyberstalking is broad and prohibits a variety of different actions, but the one thing that is constant between them is the use of electronic communication. Electronic communication is defined as any type of communication using a phone or electronics of any kind, the use of email, or the use of an electronic tracking device. You could be charged with cyberstalking if you use electronic communication, email, or an electronic tracking device to do any of the following things:
- Communicate a threat to inflict bodily harm to the victim, their children, siblings, spouse, or other dependent,
- Communicate a threat to injure the property of the victim,
- Communicate words meant to extort money or valuable property from the victim,
- Communicated with the victim repeatedly, whether or not they respond, for the purpose of annoying, threatening, harassing, or embarrassing them,
- Communicated to the victim any false statements about either their or someone in their family’s death, injury, illness, disfigurement, indecent conduct, or criminal conduct with the purpose of annoying, threatening, harassing, or embarrassing them,
- Knowingly allow an electronic device under your control to be used for one of the above acts,
- Use a tracking device in anyway if you are not permitted to do so for that purpose (for example law enforcement with the proper warrant and purpose may do so).
If you are charged with cyberstalking, it is important to talk to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Cyberstalking charges are complex and require the state prove several difficult elements such as, intent to annoy, threaten, harass, or embarrass. If the state cannot prove that you had the intent to do one of these things, they may not be able to make their case.
If you are found guilty of cyberstalking, you will be punished as a class 2 misdemeanor. This means that only if you have the most serious prior record level will you be jail eligible. However, if it is not your first offense the judge may still sentence you to probation and possibly even a split sentence. No matter what your prior record level, the judge would be able to sentence you to probation, both supervised and unsupervised, as well as levy a fine and court costs against you. Furthermore, a conviction of cyberstalking may be used to revoke your probation, as it would count as a substantive violation.
If you have been charged with cyberstalking or have questions regarding a matter involving cyberstalking, please contact Jetton & Meredith to set up a consultation with our Criminal Defense attorneys.