Cyberstalking and Cyberharassment Crimes in Michigan
Federal and state law enforcement agencies are using state-of-the-art investigative techniques. The need for a robust and intelligent defense in court has never been more critical.
Cyberstalking and Cyberharassment Charges in Michigan
Cyberstalking is using 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 challenging to determine who is doing it. Police departments are developing high-tech investigative divisions staffed by computer experts with knowledge and training to investigate computer crimes. Because of the advances in computer and internet investigations, arrests in cyberstalking and cyberharassment cases are routine.
Cyberstalking is not limited to computers. Every smartphone, internet-accessible television, tablet, or another electronic device can be used to commit cyberstalking crimes. The explosion of social media platforms has created a ripe minefield for expressing frustrations and anger. Posts and messages made over the Internet, even those made in jest or out 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 and cyberharassment are crimes 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 applies:
- the person knows that posting the message will cause a second or subsequent unconsented contact impacting the victim,
- 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 feels 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 by a stalking crime, or if the offense 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 sending mail or electronic communications to a victim if that contact was initiated or continued without that person’s consent or disregarding that person’s expressed desire that the contact stop. Sanctions range from misdemeanors to felonies and can include mental health treatment. (MCL 750.411h).
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between cyberstalking and online harassment?
Cyberharassment is threatening or intimidating conduct or unwanted communications directed at another person using the Internet and other digital or electronic communications. Cyberstalking involves the repeated and intentional use of Internet communications to frighten, intimidate or harass someone.
What is considered cyberstalking?
In the United States, cyberstalking is defined as using the Internet and other technologies to harass or stalk another person online.
What is an example of cyberstalking?
Sending repeated emails that are manipulative, threatening, lewd, or harassing would be an example of cyberstalking. Another example is hacking into a victim’s online accounts (such as banking or email) and changing their settings and passwords.
Are there federal laws against cyberstalking?
Federal law criminalizes cyberstalking. Under 18 U.S.C. 875(c), cyberstalking is a federal crime, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The crime prohibits transmitting any communications in interstate or foreign commerce containing a threat to injure someone.
Is cyberstalking a form of cyberbullying?
Cyberstalking is a form of cyberbullying.
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 dealing with cyber-related issues and internet crimes defense. Because of the technology element, it is vital to have a legal team familiar with the legal aspects of these charges and the technology aspect of any potential defense.
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 or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.