From a Norwalk CT Criminal Lawyer: What is Cyberstalking in CT?

From a Norwalk CT Criminal Lawyer: What is Cyberstalking in CT?

In 2012 the stalking and harassment laws in Connecticut were finally revised to account for the extensive advancements in technology that had occurred since 1992, which was the last year Connecticut’s harassment laws were updated. In those intervening 20 years, residents of Connecticut acquired cell phones, laptop computers, and internet connections in every home. There was also the advent of Facebook, the rise of Instagram, and other social media platforms, such as Snapchat, were just getting off the ground.

This new technology provides some incredible opportunity to connect with friends, family, and even people on the other side of the world. However, it also led to other opportunities – to defeat expectations of privacy and present new avenues to learn a person’s interests, whereabouts, preferences, and past.

While the revisions in 2012 ushered in several different concepts and updates to this set of Connecticut criminal laws, adding language to account for cyberstalking was among the most significant changes. For the first time Norwalk CT criminal lawyer was asked to identify a new set of elements and standards for cyberstalking.

How Does Connecticut Law Criminalize Cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is explicitly made a criminal offense under Section 53a- 183 of the Connecticut Code. Under this statute, it is a criminal offense to communicate with another individual through telegraph, mail, fax, telephone network, or computer network with the intent of harassing, annoying or alarming the victim.

The use of a computer network to harass was added in 2012. This revision significantly broadened the set of actions and types of communication that are explicitly prosecuted under Connecticut’s stalking and harassment laws. Even though no explicit or specific actions were criminalized under the 2012 revisions, it certainly opened up a new set of communication to prosecution. For the first time, it was clear that threatening, annoying, or alarming communication, even when sent from a distance, was illegal under Connecticut’s criminal law. A Norwalk CT criminal lawyer should respond appropriately by finding new strategies to defeat these charges.

What Actions Constitute Cyberstalking Under CT Law?

Since 2012, the forms of communication and options to reach people have only expanded further. Our smartphones allow for GPS tracking, applications that let you locate “friends” and see the location of another user, and share our personal data in ways that were unimaginable even 10 years ago. Of course, all of these new ways to track, locate, and communicate through mobile phones have opened up a new set of individuals to cyberstalking charges.

Today, 46 states have passed statutes that mention electronic communication as a form of cyberstalking. Yet, the exact definition and parameters are unclear. There is still a great deal of fluctuation and uncertainty around what constitutes cyberstalking in Connecticut, and in other states. These discrepancies and uncertainty cause problems for individuals and a Norwalk CT criminal lawyer, who is tasked with fully understanding these laws.

Some online actions now clearly fall in the realm of cyberstalking or cyberharassment. These actions include sending lewd communications to a recipient that doesn’t want to desire to receive these communications, particularly when a desire not to receive such communication is expressed; using false or fraudulent accounts on a dating site to contact another individual; and using social networks to send threatening messages.

Some of these actions are clearly and consistently considered cyberstalking under the Connecticut law, but there are far more actions that are ambiguous or questionably criminal, and these cause more problems for an individual deciding whether or not to contact a Norwalk CT criminal lawyer.

A few examples of ambiguous or uncertain situations may include sending suggestive and unsolicited messages to another user on a social media site, posting messages to a public, online bulletin board or comments section, and using polls or other online means to access a person’s direct messages and personal information.

What to Do if You are Accused of Cyberstalking?

While it remains unclear if certain circumstances are cyberstalking under Connecticut law or not, it is very important that you present a strong defense to any charges of harassment or stalking. A defense strategy by the right Norwalk CT criminal lawyer could be the difference between your freedom and a serious criminal conviction.

So, if you are currently facing harassment charges for use of a cyber, computer, or online network, contact the experienced cyberstalking law firm in Connecticut, the Law Offices of Alexander Schwartz. You can reach our office at 203-255-9829.

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