What is Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking in Michigan is viewed as a serious offense.  The law that applies to cyberstalking, MCL 750.411s(1) provides that a person shall not post a message through a communication medium such as the internet, computer, or other electronic medium with the complainant’s consent if all of the following apply to the situation: (a) the person knows or has reason to know that posting the message could cause 2 or more separate noncontinuous acts of un-consented contact with the complainant; (b) the intent behind point the message is to cause conduct to make the complainant feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested; (c) this conduct of posting the message would make a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress; (d) AND conduct from posting the message actually causes the complainant emotional distressed and to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened harassed, or molested.

If you communicate with someone else through the internet, a computer, a computer program, network, or system for the purpose of committing, attempting to commit, soliciting someone else to commit stalking or aggravated stalking, this is also a crime in Michigan pursuant to MCL 750;145d(1)(b).

There are a few exceptions to cyberstalking under the law such as Constitutionally protected speech or activity, and to the internet company or computer service provider who acts in good faith and is unaware of the specific nature of what was posted.  There are other defenses that can be pursued by an experienced criminal lawyer, such as Attorney Daniel Hilf.

The fact that the communication is coming from another State does not matter for purposes of prosecution.  If the person posts the message while in Michigan, conduct arising from the posting of the message occurs in Michigan, if the complainant is present in Michigan while a portion of this offense occurs, or if the person posting the message knows the complainant resides in Michigan, the prosecution can occur in Michigan.  The statue of limitations for the crime of cyberstalking in Michigan is 6 years.  However, if the Defendant flees the State of Michigan, or does not usually reside in Michigan, the statute of limitations can be tolled – which makes the time limit that this offense can be prosecuted extended (for more information, read MCL 767.24 and People v Blacker, 309 Mich App 199 (2015).

The penalty for cyberstalking is a felony conviction that carries a maximum of 2 years in prison, a fine of up to $5000, court costs, restitution, reimburse of expenses to the State and local government.  However, if there is the presence of any  aggravating factors, the maximum prison time is 5 years and the maximum fine is $10,000, with court costs, restitution, and reimbursement to the State and local governments.  The aggravating factors that make this a more serious crime include: if the Defendant had a restraining order that he or she had actual notice of; if posting the message a violation of an injunction or preliminary injunction; if posting the message is a violation of probation, parole, or any type of bond; posting the message results in a credible threat to complaint, the complainant’s family, or someone the complainant lives with; if the person has a prior for the same or a similar offense; or if the complainant is a minor when the violation occurred and the Defendant is 5 or years older than him or her.  An experienced criminal lawyer can often help you avoid receiving a harsh result.

Typically, if a Defendant receives probation or parole for this offense, he or she is typically banned from using a computer or a smartphone for the probationary or parole period.  To some, this bond condition may be worse than any type of incarceration.

If you are prosecuted for this type of an offense the first thing you need is a lawyer who is on your side.  The lawyer is going to help prevent you from being interrogated, will try and obtain a reasonable bond, will fully investigate the case, will hire any necessary expert witnesses to try and attack the prosecution’s version of events,  defend you properly at trial, or reach a settlement if you choose not to got to trial, and otherwise help you get the best possible result.

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