Before the digital age, stalking involved a perpetrator following a victim from place to place or appearing wherever the victim happened to be. However, with the internet, a new form of stalking emerged—cyberstalking.
What is cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking refers to the use of electronic communication to support aggressive behaviour by an individual or group that is intended to harass, frighten or harm others. This online form of harassment is an extension of in-person stalking and cyberbullying and is often deliberate, systematic, and persistent.
If you have been accused of cyberstalking, the first thing you need to do is consult a criminal harassment lawyer. An experienced lawyer will help you better understand your case and increase the chances of a favourable outcome.
What does the law say about cyberstalking?
In Canada, cyberstalking falls under the offence of criminal harassment under section 264(1) of the criminal code.
Section 264 (1) of the criminal code states:
No person shall, without lawful authority and knowing another person is harassed or recklessly as to whether the person is harassed, engage in conduct referred in subsection (2) that causes that other person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.
Under section 264 (2), the conduct mentioned in subsection (1) involves:
- Repeatedly following a victim or anyone known to them from place to place
- Continually communicating with the victim or anyone close to them, either directly or indirectly
- Watching or besetting the place where the victim or anyone close to them happens to be, or where they reside, work, or conduct business
- Engaging in threatening conduct directed at the victim or any member of their family
Criminal harassment is considered cyberstalking when it includes activities such as:
- Sending offensive messages via text or email to the victim or posing as the victim and sending harassing messages to their family, friends, employers, coworkers, or students
- Gathering private information about the victim, including their home address, finances, or employment using spyware to track their online presence or by recording keystrokes the victim makes
- Attempting to destroy the victim’s reputation by sharing false or embarrassing private information about them
- Tracking a person’s location using GPS technology without their consent
- Listening or watching a person using monitoring devices or hidden cameras
- Installing viruses that automatically transmit messages to a person’s computer
- Creating websites that contain offensive, threatening, or harassing messages, or provocative images or videos of a person
- Encouraging others to harass a victim online
- Creating fake online profiles on social networking or dating sites pretending to be the victim or attempting to entice the victim to befriend you by using a false persona.
The penalties for cyberstalking
Anyone who contravenes section 264 (1) of the criminal code is guilty of an indictable criminal offence for which they may be imprisoned for up ten years or a crime punishable on summary conviction.
The legal consequences for anyone convicted for the distribution of intimate images without consent include:
- Imprisonment for up to five years
- Seizure of their cell phones, computers, or other devices used to share the images
- An order for the removal of all the images from the internet
- An order for the reimbursement of the costs the victim incurred in removing the images from the internet
Are you looking for a criminal harassment lawyer in Vancouver?
If you have been accused of cyberstalking and are searching for a criminal harassment lawyer, contact us at the law office of Tom Doust.
Tom Doust, a Vancouver criminal lawyer, has 20 years of experience successfully defending clients in various criminal cases.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.