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When Can You Be Charged with Cyberstalking in Illinois?

Posted on in Criminal Law

b2ap3_thumbnail_internet-crime.jpgCyberstalking is more than just Google searching or Facebook snooping. Under Illinois law, cyberstalking is specifically defined act and is punishable by prison time under the law.

There are two types of cyberstalking scenarios. Generally, they are:

  1. Harassment of another on at least two separate occasions through electronic communication that causes the target to fear for his or her safety (or the safety of another) or that causes the target emotional distress.
  2. Creation and maintenance of a website for at least 24 hours that is accessible to one or more third parties that make harassing statements or communicates a threat of bodily harm to another.

Cyberstalking is a class four felony.  Class four felonies are punishable by one to three years in prison. Additionally, a fine of up to $25,000 could be imposed. Illinois law also provides for specific laws against cyberbullying for school children.  

Will Your Cyberstalking Charges Hold Up in Court?

Every set of charges are different, and an experienced Illinois criminal lawyer will be able to examine your case and determine a course of action so that your rights are preserved.

However, an Illinois court of appeal has declared that the cyberstalking statute is unconstitutional. The case is currently under review by the state supreme court. Depending on how the high court rules, the cyberstalking statute may not be enforceable. If that happens, it will be up to the state legislature to rewrite the law.

Why Was the Cyberstalking Statute Declared Unconstitutional?

The cyberstalking statute was declared unconstitutional because the statute did not have a “mens rea” or element of intent requirement. Criminal laws must have an intent element or they violate the 14th Amendment.

The appellate court found problematic the statute’s language that stated that a defendant could be convicted if the defendant “knew or should know” that the conduct “would cause a reasonable person” to fear for his or her safety or suffer emotional distress. This standard is essentially the “reasonable person” standard, which is common in civil law but has no intent element.

The appellate court also determined that the Illinois stalking statute is unconstitutional for the same reason.

Contact a Wheaton, IL Criminal Attorney

If you are concerned about cyberstalking charges, a Wheaton, Illinois criminal lawyer can help. Each case is different, and it is critical that you meet with an attorney for an individualized evaluation. Located in DuPage County, our firm has represented many people charged with felonies. Call our offices today at 630-871-1700 for a complimentary initial consultation.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/072000050k12-7.5.htm

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2016/1stDistrict/1132531.pdf

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160629/08271934861/illinois-court-says-states-cyberstalking-law-is-unconstitutional.shtml

 

 

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