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Cyberstalking Can be Classified as Domestic Abuse

Posted on in Divorce

domestic violence, Illinois family law attorney, Illinois divorce lawyer, Like physical stalking, cyberstalking is a form of domestic abuse. In fact, our increasing reliance upon electronic communication and our ubiquitous presence on social media make cyberstalking an even greater threat. You could be the victim of cyberstalking if a person uses electronic communication to follow, observe, threaten, monitor or contact you without your consent. “Electronic communication” includes – but is not limited to – transmissions via email, text message, instant message and voicemail.

Illinois law classifies three behaviors as cyberstalking. First, a person can be charged with cyberstalking if he uses electronic communication in a way that he knows – or should know – would cause a reasonable person to:

  • Fear for his safety or for the safety of a third person; or
  • Suffer other emotional distress.

Second, a person can be charged with cyberstalking if he knowingly uses electronic communication to:

  • Transmit a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint to a person or to that person’s family on at least two separate occasions;
  • Places that person or that person’s family in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint on at least two separate occasions; or
  • Knowingly solicits someone else to violate this law on at least two separate occasions.

Third, a person can be charged with cyberstalking if he knowingly creates and maintains a publicly accessible website or webpage (accessible by one or more third parties) for at least 24 hours that contains statements harassing another person, and:

  • That communicates a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint to that person or that person’s family;
  • That places that person or that person’s family in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint; or
  • Knowingly solicits someone else to violate this law.

Cyberstalking, like physical stalking, is a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine. A subsequent offense is also a Class 3 felony, punishable by three to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

While potential cyberstalking victims may seek orders of protection or temporary restraining orders against the person perpetrating the offense, they typically do not have any remedy against the telecommunications carrier, commercial mobile service provider, Internet service providers or any such company that enabled the cyberstalking activity. However, if the victim can demonstrate willful and wanton misconduct by the carrier or provider, then he might be able to obtain an order against that company.

Let Our Attorneys Help You

If you fear that you are the victim of cyberstalking, contact one of our Kane County family law attorneys today. We can help you get an order of protection or a temporary restraining order to protect you from the alleged cyberstalker. Remember that you are not alone, and that you do not have to put up with such abuse. Contact us for a free consultation. We can assist those in the St. Charles area.
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