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Cyberstalking Defense Attorneys in Orange County

Accused of Online Stalking? Call (714) 530-9690

The internet and social media have made it all but impossible to maintain your privacy these days. With so much personal information available online, it is easy for someone to look up an old ex, a former coworker, or a classmate from school. But if you had a bad relationship, or a restraining order issued against you, just a few clicks can easily put you on the other side of the law.

If you are facing cyberstalking or internet harassment charges, then you need to immediately contact Law Office of Michael L. Guisti. We have a thorough understanding of California’s internet laws and can provide a strong defense on your behalf in a criminal trial. To speak to an Orange County cyberstalking and harassment defense attorney in a free, private consultation, call our office at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999.

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California Laws on Cyberstalking and Harassment

The state of California has no specific law against cyberstalking and, instead, treats it as stalking and harassment. Under California Penal Code 646.9 PC, it is illegal for any individual to repeatedly harass, follow, or threaten someone with the intent of making them fear for safety or life, including through the use of an “electronic communication device,” such as a computer, cell phone, or any other digital device. Thus, if you were to repeatedly threaten someone online, you could be charged with stalking.

Cyberstalking can include:

  • Nonconsensual “sexting” with someone via texts, emails, or social media
  • Sending someone nude or explicit photos without their consent
  • Sending unwanted, disturbing emails to coworkers outside of work hours
  • Threatening violence against someone in an online video game
  • Spamming someone’s social media account with threatening messages

But stalking is not the only charge you may face. Following a breakup, many individuals feel the need to get back at their ex. This may include releasing explicit images, text messages, personal information, addresses, or even bank accounts with the intent of making an individual fear for their safety or the safety of their family. If you were to share an individual’s personal or private information online, you could be charged with California Penal Code 653.2 PC.

In addition, if you post explicit images or videos of someone else without their consent, including nude photos and sex tapes, you could be charged under California’s revenge porn laws according to California Penal Code 647(j)(4) PC. These charges can also be elevated if they involve a minor under the age of 18 years old. Posting any explicit images of a minor online can lead to a charge of distribution of child pornography, which can lead to you registering as a sex offender.

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How Are Cyber Crimes Charged?

In order to be charged with online harassment, the prosecution must prove that you committed stalking or harassment under the legal definition in California and that you used an electronic communication device to do it.

With regard to cyberstalking, the district attorney must show that you “maliciously or willfully” harassed someone online through repetitive messages and made a “credible threat” that placed them in “reasonable fear” for their safety – or the safety of their family. California acknowledges any electronic device when determining if a defendant has committed cyberstalking, whether a cell phone or tablet or computer used to send text messages or email; or access social media, messaging boards, forums, chatrooms, or online video games.

For a prosecutor to successfully convict you of online harassment, they must demonstrate that you:

  • Used an electronic device to send, share, or publish someone else’s personal information or a threatening message;
  • Without that person’s consent;
  • With the intent to make the person fear for their safety;
  • And the purpose of harassing them.

Both types of charges are similar and, with the aid of an experienced lawyer, you may be able to launch a strong defense. For one, the prosecution must clearly connect a specific electronic device to your crime and show that you directly sent messages or published information. They must also show that there was a credible threat against the alleged victim and that you intended to cause them harm. Your attorney may be able to show that to you, the threat was not credible, that you had no intent, and that there was a simple miscommunication. Breaking down the prosecution’s argument piece by piece can prove instrumental in protecting you from serious penalties.

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Penalties for Online Harassment

Cyberstalking carries the same charges as stalking, meaning you can face either misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the circumstances of your case. For first-time offenders, the charge is generally limited to a misdemeanor, but if you have a previous stalking conviction in the last 10 years, you are on parole, or you violated a restraining order, then you can be charged with a felony.

For a misdemeanor cyberstalking charge, you can face:

  • Up to one year in jail;
  • A fine of up to $1,000;
  • Summary probation; and/or
  • Possible restraining order

In turn, if your case is charged as a felony, you could face:

  • Up to five years in prison;
  • A fine of up to $1,000;
  • Formal probation; and/or
  • Possible restraining order

Online harassment on its own can lead to a misdemeanor charge of:

  • Up to one year in jail;
  • A fine of up to $1,000; and/or
  • Summary probation

These charges become more serious if you violated California’s revenge porn laws, if the crime involved a minor, or if you are accused of “swatting,” or falsely reporting a terrorist threat to the police via the internet.

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How to Beat Your Charges

Internet crimes require a strong evidence to secure a conviction. If you work with Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, our lead attorney can work through your case to protect your future through several defense strategies, including:

  • That your actions lacked intent, and there was no credible threat.
  • That someone else used your personal device, phone, or computer to send messages to the victim.
  • You withdrew the harassing messages before the alleged victim received them.
  • The prosecution lacks strong evidence that you sent the alleged messages.

With any crime, it is important to know that you are innocent until proven guilty and have the right to an attorney. If you are facing cyberstalking or online harassment charges, you should immediately contact Law Office of Michael L. Guisti to begin your defense. Our Orange County internet crime defense attorney can provide in-depth legal advice about how to proceed and act quickly to protect your privacy rights throughout the entire process. Do not let an accusation dictate your future. Contact our office at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to schedule a free consultation.

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Additional Information

Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.

(714) 530-9690

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