What is Cyberstalking in NC?

Cyberstalking is an all-encompassing statute in North Carolina that can be used to charge various forms of alleged conduct in North Carolina. Harassment, threats, and electronic tracking are all encompassed in this law. It is important to understand all of the aspects of cyberstalking and how it can affect your rights. Being accused of this crime can cause substantial emotional distress, and that’s where we come in. Including us as the attorneys on your case will give you peace of mind during this stressful experience. We understand that people are accused of crimes every single day, and you have a right to representation. It’s important to understand that a accusation does not automatically mean a conviction!

At Greenwood Law we have the experience and ability to navigate both the nuances and the consequences of any person charged with domestic cyberstalking in North Carolina. Our criminal defense attorneys will advocate for you passionately through the entire process. If you even think a person may be considering accusing you, call our office today. The sooner you get us involved, the sooner we can make a difference in your case and give you advice on how to proceed.

Charged With Cyberstalking In North Carolina

While cyberstalking is an offense that involves situations that can overlap with domestic disputes, it is generally not considered to be one of the specific domestic violence offenses in North Carolina. If arrested underneath this law, there is generally not a requirement for a forty-eight-hour hold in custody. Many times, charges arise from “private warrants.” These warrants are charges that are sworn out by a North Carolina resident in front of a magistrate. This means the North Carolina resident initiates probable cause with the magistrate and not a law enforcement officer. There are different factors that must be considered when charged by a private warrant and at Greenwood Law we will explain the entire process to you during our representation.

What are Some Elements of Cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is an interesting crime. We live in a world founded on technology. People communicate now more than ever before. When someone accuses you of cyberstalking, what does it really mean? In reality, it can mean any repeat unwanted communication or continued harassment that makes the other person feel unsafe. Some elements include:

  1. Harassment that is communicated electronically;
  2. Threats that are made to a person or their family electronically; and/or
  3. Electronically tracking a person’s whereabouts without a legal justification.

If you a charged with cyberstalking, it is extremely important to hire an experienced attorney in order to defend yourself and avoid potential consequences. The district attorney must prove every element of the charge of cyberstalking beyond a reasonable doubt.  The attorneys at Greenwood Law are capable of handling every aspect of a case involving cyberstalking and we will guide you every step of the way.

Cyberstalking is a Form of Stalking

Cyberstalking is recognized as a serious offense and is treated similarly to what constitutes stalking under state law. Both the accused and the victim can suffer substantial emotional distress because of the charge. Cyberstalking involves the use of electronic communication or an electronic device to harass, threaten, or intimidate an individual. This can include emails, phone calls, social media messages, text messages, and other forms of digital interaction. The state’s legal framework, outlined in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-196.3, specifically addresses and prohibits various forms of cyber harassment.

  • Threatening Harm: Conveying electronic threats of bodily injury, physical injury, or damage to a person’s property. This also includes threats towards a person’s family members.
  • Repeated Communication: Sending repeated messages with the intent to abuse, annoy, threaten, terrify, harass, or embarrass the recipient.
  • False Statements: Making false statements about someone’s death, injury, illness, disfigurement, indecent conduct, or criminal activity with the intent to cause distress or harm.
  • Permitting Misuse: Allowing a device under one’s control to be used for the purposes mentioned above.

The evidence against you must be clear to a reasonable person for you to get convicted. If you or someone you know is accused of criminal conduct, it is crucial to seek experienced legal representation to navigate these complex charges and court orders. Our law firm specializes in defending individuals accused of cyberstalking, ensuring that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair trial.

Punishment and Penalties for Cyberstalking

The charges for cyberstalking are generally categorized based on the severity and circumstances of the offense. Cyberstalking can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, with varying levels of penalties. In most cases, a first-time offense of cyberstalking is charged as a Class 2 Misdemeanor. This can result in penalties such as up to 60 days jail time, community service, probation, and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If the cyberstalking involves aggravating factors such as repeated offenses, violation of a restraining order, or causing substantial emotional distress to the victim, it can be elevated to a Class H Felony. A conviction for a Class H Felony can result in 4 to 25 months of imprisonment, depending on the specific circumstances and the offender’s prior criminal record. In addition to imprisonment, the court may impose fines, probation, and mandatory counseling or treatment programs.

Repeat offenders or individuals with prior convictions for similar offenses are more likely to face felony charges. Violating an existing restraining order while committing unwanted electronic communications can escalate the charge to a felony. Direct threats to inflict bodily harm, especially if they are credible and imminent, can lead to more severe charges. A conviction will result in a criminal record, which can affect employment, housing, and other aspects of life. Depending on the severity, this can range from a few days to several years. Financial penalties can be substantial, particularly for felony convictions. These may be required in addition to or instead of imprisonment. While some may face prison, another person may be required to attend counseling or treatment programs.

Strategies for Defending Against Charges

While people electronically communicate every day, this is definitely a sensitive and personal topic that must be handled delicately. So what are some ways an attorney may reduce or eliminate charges? Well, sometimes you are able to argue that the prosecution lacks enough evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. What is the reliability of the digital evidence presented? Is it possible that they are false statements? By questioning the authenticity of emails, phone calls, messages, or social media DM’s attributed to the defendant, an attorney may suggest they may have been fabricated or altered, and that any reasonable person should believe in a not-guilty verdict.

Electronic communications are not black and white. Does the victim have a reasonable fear? Demonstrating that the defendant did not have the intent to harass, threaten, or intimidate the alleged victim could show that the communications were misunderstood or taken out of context. Maybe the victim felt that the communications served a legitimate and legal purpose, such as resolving a business dispute or addressing a personal matter, rather than intending to cause distress.

What about our rights as America’s under the constitution? The defense might argue that the defendant’s communications are protected under the First Amendment’s right to free speech, especially if the messages did not constitute direct threats or harassment to another person. How was law enforcement was able to gather their “evidence” against you? The evidence collected could be in violation of the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Each cyberstalking case is unique, and an effective defense strategy must be tailored to the specific circumstances and evidence involved. Skilled defense attorneys will thoroughly investigate the case, scrutinize the prosecution’s evidence, and develop a comprehensive defense plan to protect their client’s rights and achieve the best possible outcome. It’s always best to be prepared for every strategy and claim the prosecution will make.

Fighting for Defendant’s Rights Throughout North Carolina

These are serious charges that can affect your livelihood in numerous ways. You have the right to a lawyer. Lawyers know how to argue cases to district attorneys and to the Court. You also have the right to a fair trial, and you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Attorneys at Greenwood Law will ensure that no one in the criminal justice process forgets these rights.

If you are facing cyberstalking charges in Winston-Salem, throughout Forsyth County, or elsewhere in the Triad, contact our law firm, Greenwood Law, by calling 336-661-8788. Schedule your free initial consultation over the phone or by using this online contact form. Remember: The best offense starts with a good defense. Call today to start protecting your rights immediately.