What Evidence Do I Need to Prove I Am a Victim of Cyberstalking?
Stalking is an unpleasant reality, even when it happens virtually. Cyberstalking can result from various different scenarios. A spouse or significant other may cyberstalk you as a form of domestic violence. Conversely, someone may disagree with your opinions on a forum you are active in and virtually harass you. While cyberstalking is quite different than traditional stalking, it can still be just as frightening. You might have many questions, including what evidence you need to prove you are the victim of online stalking or how you can keep yourself safe on the internet.
You may also be wondering whether you need an attorney. Hiring a cyber crimes attorney may be beneficial to your case. There are numerous defenses to cyberstalking, and the defendant may evade charges if you do not have an Internet harassment lawyer on your side.
What Is Cyberstalking in Florida?
Florida Statute 784.048 states that cyberstalking is any communication through electronic methods, such as text messages, emails, and social media, directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress and serves no legitimate purpose. Any person who willfully, maliciously, or repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person may commit stalking. Stalking is a first-degree misdemeanor charge in Florida. Thus, someone who is charged with cyberstalking may face the penalties associated with a first-degree misdemeanor upon a conviction.
The statute also details aggravated cyberstalking as a person who continuously harasses another online and makes a credible threat. A credible threat is a verbal or nonverbal threat delivered electronically, and the target has a reasonable fear for their safety. Anyone charged with aggravated cyberstalking faces a third-degree felony charge.
How to Prove You’re the Victim of Cyberstalking
Proving another person is stalking you can be challenging, especially online. The perpetrator may be hiding their identity and location through privacy software, but there are a few ways to prove you are a victim of cyberstalking.
Proving that someone is stalking you will be impossible without any evidence. Document and preserve all communications, posts, photos, and other media the cyberstalker posted or sent you. While you might want to delete threatening messages, doing so can make it challenging to present your case in court. Furthermore, documenting all communications and posts may help refute any counterclaims by the defendant.
Create a Timeline
Creating a timeline of events is an essential part of a cyberstalking case. The defense will try to discredit your claim based on a lacking or incomplete timeline, so it is vital to detail the date and time of all cyberstalking communications, threats, and harassment. You can do this in a document that clearly shows the date, time, and message. Screenshots of the message will also be helpful when making a timeline.
Your timeline should also include when you contacted the police. You must note this because the other party may argue there was no immediate danger if you did not seek help or assistance with the issue.
Set Accounts to Private
Limiting the amount of personal information that is public is an effective way to prove someone is cyberstalking you. If personal information and photographs are not easily accessible to the general public, a cyberstalker may have difficulty explaining how they accessed it.
How to Protect Yourself from Online Stalkers
The internet can be a vulnerable place, especially when not everyone has good intentions. You can do a few things to protect yourself online and avoid being the victim of cyberstalking. Many stalkers come from dating websites or apps, so never include your last name or phone number until you meet the person. Additionally, wait to add them on any social media platforms until after you meet in person. When in doubt, block anyone who is exhibiting suspicious behavior.
Set a reminder to change your passwords for online sites about every 30 days. Many websites are also beginning to generate new passwords for their users. It is a good idea to accept it, but change or add a few characters. We are more likely to create traceable passwords than an algorithm.
Skilled Cyberstalking Attorneys in Orlando
If you are the victim of cyberstalking, contact The Umansky Law Firm today. Our cyberstalking lawyers know what it takes to hold individuals accountable for online harassment and stalking. Hiring an experienced Internet attorney is your best chance to succeed in stopping a cyberstalker. To schedule a free consultation, call our office or complete our contact form.