Stalking and Cyberstalking in Illinois
Illinois has several different laws that relate to stalking, and in Illinois, stalking and cyberstalking are both crimes. Moreover, it does not take much contact before an individual can be convicted of a stalking crime.
What is Cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking is the use of electronic communications to harass someone else. This type of stalking can be as simple as repeatedly texting someone and including a vague threat, or it can involve more detailed threats over email or social media.
If you have a webpage with threatening language targeting someone, and only one other person views the webpage you, can be charged with cyberstalking. You do not have to have ever met the victim in person to be charged and convicted of cyberstalking.
What is Stalking?
Stalking is any course of conduct that would make a reasonable person fear for his or her safety or suffer emotional distress. There is no requirement of physical contact. Additionally, stalking can involve following someone, staying within the line of sight of the other person, or even making repeated, unwanted phone calls. There is no requirement of any kind of previous relationship to be guilty of the crime of stalking.
What are the Consequences of a Stalking or Cyberstalking Conviction?
Often, stalking and cyberstalking are civil matters. A victim can seek a protective order for the stalking. However, stalking and cyberstalking are also crimes—stalking and cyberstalking are Class 4 Felonies. They are punishable by one to four years in prison for a first offense. If there is a violation of a protective order, or if this is the second offense, both stalking and cyberstalking become Class 3 felonies. This increases the prison term to between two and five years.
Finally, stalking and cyberstalking are both considered domestic violence offenses in Illinois and can impact everything from child custody to volunteering in your children’s school.
Defenses to Stalking
The two most common defenses to stalking are that the contact was consensual and that the victim overreacted. However, stalking and cyberstalking prosecutions often involve records that show exactly what was communicated. It can be difficult to defend against these kinds of charges. Still, the sooner you involve a criminal defense attorney in your case, the better chances you have at a better outcome.
If you have been charged with stalking or cyberstalking, please contact a knowledgeable Naperville criminal defense attorney at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC right away. You should not discuss your case with anyone, including law enforcement, until you have consulted with a lawyer. Call 630-232-1780 today to schedule a consultation. You have to take action to protect your rights.