In recent years, traditional stalking (harassment) has been replaced with virtual or cyber stalking. Cyber stalking is where one individual follows the online activities of another person, whom they are consumed with and want to know every facet and detail of their life. Another form of cyber harassment is cyber bullying, which is where the harasser posts hateful and derogatory comments about the individual they are stalking.
Unfortunately, this type of criminal activity often goes unreported to law enforcement agencies. Part of the reason people do not report cyber stalking is they might not believe there is anything that can be done because the invasion into their online circles is not serious enough to warrant an investigation. Another reason people do not report this offence is they may feel like the police cannot do anything unless there has been an outright threat made against the victim, their property, friends, or family.
Tips for Dealing with Cyber Stalkers
If you believe you are being harassed and stalked online, remember to do the following:
- Never under any circumstance agree to the meet the stalker in person.
- Keep a record of all online contact, such as emails, social media posts, and so on.
- If you know the person, tell them to stop. If they do not, report them to the police.
- Consider deleting social media and email accounts.
- Inform your family and close real-life friends what is going on so they are aware of the situation.
What Can Be Done Legally?
In cases where the cyber stalker is known, potential legal actions that can be taken against the suspect can range from law enforcement making verbal warnings and helping the victim obtain a restraining order to criminal charges for repeated contact. In situations where the cyber stalker is not known because they are using a fake online profile and picture, it can still be beneficial to report harassment to law enforcement agencies, as there are many new and modern technologies they can use to try and help locate the individual.
If you remember, back in August 2014, Robert Campbell was finally brought to justice after investigators used specific techniques to crack through the Internet anonymity software Campbell was using. In that particular case, it did take investigators eight months to finally find Campbell, who was initially charged with 181 offences for crimes including criminal harassment and identity defamation which occurred over the course of a decade.
Even if you feel there is nothing that can be done right now, eventually law enforcement officials could bring the offender to justice. In the Campbell case, he was convicted and pled guilty to 63 of the 181 offenses and sentenced to a six year imprisonment period.
What If I Have Been Accused of Cyber Stalking?
If you have been charged with criminal harassment, it is in your best interests to speak with an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer to discuss your options and obtain actual legal advice. Céline Dostlaer offers a free 30-minute case evaluation by calling 613.695.8585 today!