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Online actions can lead to stalking charges or a protective order

| Nov 11, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

The internet has changed how we meet and interact with people. It has never been easier to find people who share your tastes and hobbies. You can do everything from invite a friend to an event to making reservations or buying tickets for that event online.

Unfortunately, the constant contact possible through social media and other websites has made it easier than ever before for people to harass, abuse and stalk others. If someone has upset you, you could potentially send them angry messages on a variety of platforms.

A few seconds of your time could shame them or hurt their feelings repeatedly as you fire messages across many platforms. While the communication options offered by the internet are valuable, they can also be dangerous when relationships sour. Florida has laws on the books that can make what you do online a criminal act.

Florida’s law about stalking now includes cyberstalking

Trying to convince someone that you know their schedule and everywhere they want to be in the physical world can easily result in allegations of stalking. The same is true if you make it a point to follow and harass someone on various websites or apps.

Sending abusive, derogatory or threatening messages to someone, having your friends harass them or creating multiple fake profiles in order to egg someone on are all examples of behavior that could lead to cyberstalking charges under Florida law. If communication occurs with the sole intent of causing emotional distress to the recipient, it qualifies as cyberstalking.

Not only could you potentially face criminal charges for things that only happened online but those same interactions could also serve as grounds for a successful restraining or protective order request by the other person. 

Digital behavior can have real-world consequences

The accessibility of online communications means that they can make people feel unsafe even in their own homes or beds. People have the right to basic personal freedoms, including the right to be free from abuse.

If you have a pattern of digital behavior that has made someone feel unsafe or if someone wants to twist your online interactions to imply abusive behavior on your part, the consequences could be severe.

In addition to criminal charges or a restraining order, cyberstalking claims could impact the outcome of a pending divorce or child custody case if you share children with the other person involved.

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