Cyberstalking – just like real-life stalking – is a serious crime in Texas, resulting in charges, fines and possible jail time. Under the Texas penal code, a person who is convicted of Internet stalking may face charges ranging from a Class B misdemeanor to a 3rd degree felony in aggravated cases involving threats of physical violence.
While cyberstalking legislation in Texas and around the nation is designed to protect victims, it’s important to remember there are two sides to every story, and unsubstantiated claims of online harassment are increasingly commonplace.
In some cases, such allegations are rooted in tumultuous break-ups, divorces and long-standing disagreements. If you have been accused of maliciously stalking or harassing another person or group online, it’s imperative to protect your legal rights.
Online harassment laws in Texas
Texas Penal law (Sec. 42.07) defines harassment as: “A person commits an offense if, with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another, he:”
- Initiates communication by electronic communication or by telephone, making an obscene comment, request, proposal or suggestion
- Threatens bodily injury to another individual, their property or a member of their family by electronic communication
- Makes repeated communications anonymously with the intent to alarm, abuse, harass, offend, annoy, embarrass or torment another
- Sends a false report online that another has suffered death or serious bodily injury
If you e-mail, text, instant message, or call another person in Texas with the intention of tormenting, annoying, embarrassing, or emotionally abusing them – you can face criminal charges.
The state of Texas also enacted statutes that criminalize the act of impersonating another online with the intent to harm or defraud. Because online harassment has the potential to escalate into violent crime, law enforcement aggressively pursues allegations of cyberstalking, whether the crimes are sexual in nature, or involve defamation or false accusations.
Propagating false rumors on social media, posting lewd or obscene photos on a chat room site, or repeatedly sending texts or emails that provoke fear and intimidation may all be construed as online harassment and cyberstalking.
Cyberstalking penalties in Texas
If you are accused of cyberstalking in Texas, it is critical that all the facts are known, given the severe repercussions. Depending on the accusations, you could face third-degree felony charges, punishable with up to a $10,000 penalty and jail time in a state penitentiary. In cases where the individual has a prior conviction, this charge can be bumped up to a second-degree felony, with the possibility of up to 5 years in prison.
For cutting-edge cyberstalking criminal defense in Texas, turn to the Dallas law office of Jeffery King. With more than a decade of computer crimes litigation experience, Jeff King has the skill, resources and legal acumen to confront the most serious of allegations. For veteran legal assistance, request a free consultation by calling today.
Additional Texas Cyberstalking Law Resources:
- Texas Legal Statutes, PENAL CODE OFFENSES AGAINST PROPERTY. COMPUTER CRIMES http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.33.htm
- Pew Research Center, Online Harassment http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/10/22/online-harassment/