Reporting the On-Line Stalkers

April 24, 2013 0 Comments

By J. David Haskin

The laws against stalking in Georgia and across the country are relatively well developed. Likewise, the process and procedures both for seeking protection and enforcing orders are easily employed by attorneys practicing in specialized areas such as family or criminal law.

However, in our practice we find that identifying the on-line stalker may be more difficult – even if the victim or victims have a good idea of by whom they are being stalked. Employing an expert can be expensive but is often beneficial and necessary to obtain the protections of the Court. Good circumstantial evidence, when presented properly, can get results from the Courts even if a crime is never charged. An injunction or similar order can protect from further possible criminal activity perpetrated by the stalker. It might also have the potential to protect the victim by developing further civil remedies such as damages.

The first step for anyone being stalked online is to protect physical safety. Never respond directly to the perpetrator as it may serve to encourage the offensive behaviors. The next step requires the victim to report the problem to the site on which it occurs. For example, on-line activity can be flagged as abusive on many social networks.  More serious behavior can be reported to such places as Cyber911 Emergency. Of course, an immediate, serious or credible threat should be reported to local law enforcement.

Always remember as a preliminary step to keep accurate records of all communications and contact law enforcement if it becomes threatening in any way. An attorney familiar with cyberstalking laws can guide you through the process of protecting yourself and building your case for possible criminal prosecution or civil remedies. Anyone under 18 should immediately notify parents or a trusted adult to ensure the threats are tracked and, when appropriate, to contact those that can help stop the behavior. A threat that might not warrant the protection of law enforcement may be eliminated using other legal maneuvers.

Online stalking may be easier to prosecute than physical stalking when properly traced. However, this may require some technological knowledge that the average individual does not possess. When it is feasible, it may be appropriate and beneficial to hire an individual experienced at capturing and documenting cybercrimes. Armed with this information, both criminal and civil remedies can then be useful tools in stopping the on-line stalker.

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