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Dedicated Ohio Attorneys Decipher Cyberstalking Laws for Your Defense

Fighting for the accused in a digital age

Anything you put on the Internet stays there forever, or so it is said. As a result, you need to be more careful than ever about what you post online, especially when emotions are running high. At Yavitch & Palmer Co., L.P.A., our attorneys understand just how quickly a wrong word or turn-of-phrase can be used against you and lead to an accusation of cyberstalking.

Determining the level of cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is prosecuted under Ohio Revised Code 2903.11 Menacing by Stalking or 2917.21(A) Telecommunications Harassment. These charges are serious, and they apply whether your conduct was sexually motivated or not. According to Ohio  law someone who knowingly causes another person to believe that they will physically harm them or will cause them mental distress is guilty of menacing by stalking. This includes messages posted through the Internet or other telecommunication devices, like phones or pagers. Based on this standard alone, cyberstalking is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. However, a wide variety of factors and situations can result in the charge being increased to felony status.

A stalking charge is increased to a fourth-degree felony if any of the following conditions exist:

  • The person accused has previously been convicted of menacing by stalking or aggravated trespass
  • The victim is a minor
  • The offender has a history of violence towards the victim or another person
  • There was property damage to the victims personal premises as a result of the incident
  • The offense relates to the victim’s work at a children’s services agency
  • The offender made a threat of physical harm against the victim or incited another person to do so
  • The incident includes trespassing on the property where the victim lives, goes to school or their place of work
  • The victim was already protected by court order

The charge can also be elevated to a felony if the defendant is in possession of a deadly weapon during the incident.

The consequences of a conviction

Any person found guilty of cyberstalking faces potential jail time and a fine. The maximum penalty depends on the level of the crime. Ohio law sets the penalties for cyberstalking crimes as follows:

  • First-degree misdemeanor — Up to 180 days in jail
  • Fourth-degree felony — Up to 18 months in jail

In addition, if the crime was found to be sexually motivated, a convicted cyberstalker may be required to register as a sex offender. Even at their most lenient, these penalties can be problematic, so it is in your best interest to work with an attorney who can defend you aggressively and who respects your rights.

Call us if you’re facing cyberstalking charges in the Greater Columbus area

You can count on the attorneys at Yavitch & Palmer Co., L.P.A. to represent your case in a positive light and to ensure that your side of the story is heard. Call our downtown Columbus office at 614.224.6142 or complete our online form to set up an appointment. Evening and weekend appointments can be accommodated.

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