Cyberstalking is the use of the internet, email, or other electronic communications to stalk, and generally refers to a pattern of threatening or malicious behavior. Anyone can cyberstalk a person and it is often very difficult to determine who is doing it. Police departments are developing high tech investigative divisions that are staffed by computer experts with knowledge and training to investigate computer crimes. Because of the advances in computer and internet investigations, arrests in these cases are now routine.
Cyberstalking is not limited to computers. Every smartphone, internet-accessible television, tablet, or other electronic devices can be used to commit the crime of cyberstalking. The explosion of social media platforms has created a ripe minefield for the expression of frustrations and anger. Posts and messages made over the internet, even those made in jest or our of a moment of angry frustration, can be used as evidence in criminal prosecutions.
The crime of cyberstalking is considered the most dangerous type of internet harassment, based on posing a credible threat of harm.
Cyberstalking in Michigan
Cyberstalking is a crime in Michigan. Michigan Compiled Law (MCL) 750.411s provides that a person shall not post a message through the use of any medium of communication, including the internet or a computer, without the victim’s consent, if the following apply:
the person knows that posting the message will cause a second or subsequent unconsented contact impacting the victim,
if the message is intended to cause conduct that would make the victim feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested,
the message would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress and to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested, and
the victim suffers emotional distress and to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.
Unless aggravating facts exist, a violation of the cyberstalking statute is a felony punishable by up to 2 years in prison. The maximum possible sentence increases to 5 years, if the message violates a restraining order or an order of probation, presents a credible threat, if the victim had been previously victimized of a stalking crime, or if the crime is committed against a person younger than 18 and if the defendant is at least five years older than the victim.
A crime can be both cyberstalking and stalking.
A cyberstalking crime can also be a violation of the general stalking statute. The general stalking statute would include the sending of mail or electronic communications to a victim if that contact was initiated or continued without that person’s consent or in disregard of that person’s expressed desire that the contact stop. Sanctions range from misdemeanors to felonies and can include mental health treatment. (MCL 750.411h).
Computer and Internet Crimes Require a High-Tech Defense
If a person is facing a cybercrime offense, including cyberstalking, they must have the protection of a legal team experienced in the area of dealing with cyber-related issues and internet crimes defense. Because of the technology element of these offenses, it is important to have a legal team that is familiar with not only the legal aspects of these charges but the technology aspect of a potential defense as well.
The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., has extensive experience defending clients charged with internet-connected crimes. We use a unique and effective team approach in defense of our clients that has proven to be highly effective and has resulted in an unparalleled track record of success. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a Free Consultation and confidential case evaluation or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will promptly contact you.