The digital age has given Americans a seemingly endless number of ways to connect with each other. Whether you send text messages, participate in social media or create online content, you can broadcast your thoughts to whomever you want whenever you want.
Individuals can use the internet for both good and bad purposes, of course. If you use your electronic devices to bully, harass or intimidate others, prosecutors may charge you with criminal cyberstalking.
A felony-level offense
Criminal cyberstalking is a felony-level offense in Illinois. According to the Illinois Criminal Code, cyberstalking includes using an electronic device to do any of the following:
- Make someone fear for his or her physical safety or the physical safety of someone else
- Cause someone to experience emotional distress
- Force someone to worry about sexual assault, confinement or bodily injury
- Induce someone to harm someone else
It is important to note that criminal cyberstalking cannot be a single incident. To be guilty of the offense, you must do one of the above more than once.
Your legal rights
If you are under investigation for criminal cyberstalking, it is critical to understand your legal exposure. To avoid the potentially catastrophic consequences that often come with a cyberstalking conviction, it is advisable to exercise all your legal rights.
Generally, members of law enforcement must have a warrant to look through your smartphone, tablet, computer or other electronic devices. You also have the right not to incriminate yourself. This fundamental right encompasses both your right to remain silent and your right to legal counsel.
Ultimately, because law enforcement usually has the upper hand when investigating cybercrimes, exercising your legal rights may help you level the playing field.