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What does cyberstalking mean?

Stalking has been around for a very long time. It usually happens when one individual is motivated to follow, harass or communicate in an unwanted manner with another person. In recent decades, stalking has evolved into a serious criminal offense that can have significant repercussions for those convicted. In the modern computer age, stalking has gone a step further than physical harassment to include unwanted computer-based behaviors, many of which are against the law.

Most states, including Ohio, have two legislative categories for unwanted stalking behaviors: cyberstalking and cyberharassment. Of the two, cyberstalking is considered more serious as these behaviors could pose a real threat of harm to the person being stalked. One way to define cyberstalking is the use of any electronic means to stalk another person.

Common behaviors that could lead to cyberstalking charges include:

-- Sending unwanted electronic messages such as emails or text messages

-- Sending abusive or threatening messages to the victim and sometimes the victim's family members, friends and co-workers

-- Posting the victim's personal data in public places online

-- Sending sexually explicit images of the person being stalked across the Internet

-- Hacking the victim's online accounts, mobile devices and computers

-- Using the Internet to track the victim's movements

-- Damaging the victim's reputation through social media and other outlets

-- Publishing offensive remarks online using the victim's identity

Any person facing Internet crimes like cyberstalking in the state of Ohio could be headed for serious trouble. While penalties upon conviction range from moderate to severe, the defendant will need legal assistance to emerge from the ordeal unscathed. In Ohio, seek a firm with background and experience cyberstalking defendants rely on as they fight the charges against them.

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Cyberstalking and Cyberharassment Laws," accessed Sep. 29, 2015

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