What can the law do about online stalking or harassment?

If you’re accused of online sexual harassment or other Internet crimes, it’s important that you understand how you can defend yourself. What exactly made your actions a crime, and is the prosecuting party mistaken? What can you and your attorney do to fight off the charges?

If you go on a date with a man or woman who isn’t interested in you, sending that person a sexual text, Snapchat or other message could be considered harassment. Of course, adults do send messages like this sometimes, and typically, when they are solicited or wanted, there’s no problem. The issue is when that message is sent unsolicited, making the person receiving the message feel threatened.

The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that around 850,000 American adults, both men and women, have been victims of cyberstalking. This is when they’re stalked, sent messages and harassed online. Some face their once-private photos going online, which, when they’re nudes or illicit, can actually end careers or threaten relationships.

That’s why any time you’re accused of cyberharassment, it’s necessary to take steps to defend yourself. You should know that if someone sends you a photograph or if you take one with permission, it may not actually be illegal to post it online, but it’s still a gray area. You don’t want to be caught up in a case where the law isn’t straightforward. The court may issue restraining orders or protective orders against you, and even that can affect you. From the moment you know that someone is accusing you of harassment, collect all the evidence you have and keep it for your case.

Source: The Atlantic, “What the Law Can (and Can’t) Do About Online Harassment,” Marlisse Silver Sweeney, accessed Sep. 16, 2016