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California law highlights seriousness of cyber crimes

Have you ever tried to contact someone repeatedly via email, telephone or other form of electronic communication before? If so, were your attempts done so in good faith or was the intent to annoy the other person? If you answered with the latter of the two, then you might be surprised to know that you may have broken the law. And depending on what happened afterwards, you may have even faced criminal charges as well.

That’s because, here in California, there are laws against cyberstalking and cyberharassment. But how are these terms defined and what consequences could a person face if charges are levied against them?

Generally speaking, cyberstalking is defined as the act of using the Internet or other forms of electronic communication to stalk another individual. Repeated communications that are associated with threatening or malicious behavior are usually associated with the term cyberstalking.

Cyberharassment is a little different because it typically does not include a credible threat. Most state laws define the term as the sending of repeated electronic communications with the intent to annoy.

Though cyberharassment is commonly used interchangeably with cyberbullying, it is important to note that the latter of the two is often associated with minors in a school setting. It’s because of this that these two cyber crimes can carry different penalties and may be treated differently from one another depending on the accused person’s age.

Our state considers both cyberstalking and cyberharassment as serious crimes that can lead to criminal charges, fines and even jail time. And if a civil lawsuit is filed by the victim, an accused person may be held liable for damages as well. In both legal situations, representation is highly recommended, especially because they can inform you about your rights and help you through the legal process as well.

Sources: The National Conference of State Legislatures, “State Cyberstalking and Cyberharassment Laws,” Dec. 5, 2013, Accessed July 22, 2014, “Cal. Civil Code § 1708-1725,” Aug. 9, 2012, Accessed July 22, 2014

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