Cyberstalking and Cyberharassment and Conspiracy
Now, more than ever, state and federal laws are attempting to catch up with the progress of technology by beginning to punish men and women for crimes committed through technology. Two of the major offenses that are being pushed through around the country are cyberstalking and cyberharassment laws, redefining the crime of stalking and harassment to incorporate the practices within the Internet and technological sphere.
Cyberstalking Leads to Possible Life In Prison
In a recent case ruled in Delaware, the extent to which cyberstalking and cyberharassment can be coupled with other crimes and punished more harshly than just a slap on the wrist has been discussed. The case revolves around a family where the son was in the process of an agonizing custody battle and divorce, and during one of the custody hearings, the son’s father shot and killed his daughter-in-law and friend. The son, the son’s mother, and the son’s sister all had been cyberstalking and cyberharassing the wife for years prior to her murder.
Was The Murder a Reasonably Foreseeable Consequence of Cyberstalking?
The jury, at the end of the federal proceedings, found the group guilty for conspiracy for the murder of the wife, using the extent of the interstate cyberstalking and cyberharassing of the wife to state the whole family was in agreement regarding the plan to stalk, harass, and ultimately murder the wife for her role in the divorce and custody battle. The family, during trial, insisted that they had no knowledge of the father’s plan to murder the wife, but the prosecutors stated that it was only relevant whether the family could have reasonably foreseen the consequences of their actions. The jury determined that they could. The jury’s verdict of guilt could lead to the family serving a life sentence – the harshest punishment ever seen for interstate cyberstalking.
Cyberstalking in Florida
Florida has similar cyberstalking/cyberharassment laws to other states in the nation, including the federal laws. In Florida, the elements of cyberstalking require that there is:
- Communication from one person to a specific person;
- Of words, images, some type of language;
- Through email, websites, or other form of electronic communication;
- Where the specific person is under significant emotional distress as a result; and
- There is no legitimate purpose for the communication other than with the intent to cause emotional distress.
Conspiracy in Florida
The act of conspiracy must be the agreement between another person or persons to commit a crime. It is important to note that in Florida, a conspiracy can be between two people, whereas in other states a conspiracy requires more than two people involved. There are affirmative defenses for conspiracy whereby the defendant must prove that he/she can avail him/herself of the defense, and is immune from conspiracy charges.
Affirmative Defenses to Conspiracy
The defense has the burden of proof to show that he/she completely and voluntarily renounced the intent to commit an offense, and he/she persuaded the other persons involved in the conspiracy not to commit the crime or prevented the crime from being committed. It is not enough for a conspirator to decide to not show up, or tell his/her conspirators that he/she is no longer interested in the crime; instead, the conspirator must be active in persuading the others to not go through with the plan, or stop the offense from occurring in the first place.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a criminal offense, It is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.