According to Massachusetts law, cyber stalking is akin to what many other states would call “online harassment.” It is willful and malicious. It is behavior that is specifically meant to alarm, annoy, or threaten a specific target person. The target can reasonably suffer emotional distress and fear for their safety because of the stalking. Massachusetts has a broad definition of what can be used in cyber stalking. Means can include email, internet, texts, or phone calls.
Michigan is tough on alleged cyber stalkers. Convicts can face prison time of up to five years and fines of up to $1,000.
Defenses Against Cyber Stalking
You are innocent until proven guilty. Regardless of whatever transcripts or evidence the police believe they have, there are still credible arguments against cyber stalking allegations. Here are some common defenses you can use.
Freedom of Speech
If you were in a public fight with someone online, it’s easy to argue that your actions were simply expressions of free speech. High-profile, online squabbles are reported in the news daily. In a public forum, it’s difficult to prove that your interactions were targeted, malicious attacks. A difference of opinion is not stalking or harassment, no matter how heated it gets.
Your Interaction Was Not Stalking
Looking at the facts of the case, is it possible that your accuser has blown the situation out of proportion? Sending someone one hurtful text is not stalking. Stalking necessitates targeted, continuous maliciousness. Your communication may have been angry, and you have since calmed down. If you made one incendiary comment to someone and never spoke to them again, it’s difficult to prove you were stalking them.
The Results Were Unintentional
Recall that “malicious intent” is written into the law. As the law states, cyber stalking results in serious emotional distress. Not everyone has the same built-in barometer of what is and isn’t appropriate. What you perceived as a joke or as a minute criticism may have been wildly misinterpreted by the other person. We don’t always know when we’re triggering others, especially if they suffer from a mental illness. If the other person fell into genuine distress due to your interaction, you can explain to the court that you didn’t intend to harm anyone, and your actions were therefore not malicious.
Challenge the Amount of Communications
When, exactly, does communication become too much? If you are broken hearted and repeatedly texting your ex-partner to take you back, when does it become stalking? Ultimately, these are questions for the courts to answer. You can, however, demonstrate that your messages were not egregious. Maybe you texted them repeatedly for a week and eventually left them alone. Depending on the facts of the case, you can make the argument that you didn’t cross the line, and that the other person just didn’t want to hear from you anymore.
Call (617) 227-3700 today or contact us online if you need help with a cybercrime charge. Martin G. Weinberg, Attorney at Law is up to date with internet crime laws, and he can help defend you against these allegations.