Cyberstalking is serious. Whether harassment or bullying, any form of stalking another person can result in legal consequences. Under some state laws, cyberstalking can result in a class 4 felony. When a cyberstalker's actions result in a federal indictment, the government exacts severe criminal penalties and fines.
Many would-be stalkers have no idea their activity can escalate from a state felony to the level of a federal crime. The cyberstalker, if convicted, faces time in jail and significant fines.
Missouri laws prohibit cyberstalking
Cyberstalking often involves the use of electronic communication via computer, text, voicemail, email or instant messaging, or the establishment of a website to terrorize a victim or public citizen. A high percentage of stalking cases are related to domestic disputes or child custody disputes.
Under Missouri law, stalking or cyberstalking occurs "when any person purposely and repeatedly engages in an unwanted course of conduct that causes alarm to another person when it is reasonable in that person's situation to have been alarmed by the conduct." The "alarm" is described as fear of physical harm. Two or more related incidents is enough to charge an individual with stalking.
Aggravated stalking occurs when an individual who is 21 or older harasses or makes a credible threat to a person who is 17 or younger. Conviction of aggravated stalking carries a stiffer sentence.
Defending cyberstalking charges
Those accused of cyberstalking should know there are defensible areas in which to exonerate guilt. Any time you face a criminal charge, whether for cyberstalking or something else, it is important to not answer questions from law enforcement officers until you speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
Whether at the state or federal level, competent representation can result in a dismissal or a significant reduction of criminal penalties.