While it may be a relatively new technology, the Internet is fertile grounds for the commission of crimes that have been around for a long time. Fraud committed on the Internet is still fraud even though the means are different. The same goes for stalking and harassment committed online.
According to a survey by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported being subject to some form of cyberstalking such as e-mail (83%) or instant messaging (35%).
Nevada Stalking Law
Just as stalking “in real life” is a criminal offense in Nevada, “cyberstalking” is a serious crime in Nevada that can result in hefty fines and a lengthy jail sentence.
Nevada's prohibition against cyberstalking is part of its general stalking law. Under that statute, NRS 200.575, a person commits the crime of stalking when he or she:
“…without lawful authority, willfully or maliciously engages in a course of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, harassed or fearful for the immediate safety of a family or household member, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, harassed or fearful for the immediate safety of a family or household member…”
Cyberstalking is committed when a person engages in stalking as defined above through “the use of an Internet or network site, electronic mail, text messaging or any other similar means of communication to publish, display or distribute information in a manner that substantially increases the risk of harm or violence to the victim.” (NRS 200.575(3)).
Penalties for Cyberstalking in Nevada
While a person accused of stalking for the first time will generally be charged with a misdemeanor, online stalking and harassment is actually subject to greater penalties. Cyberstalking in Nevada is a Category C felony which could result in up to five years in Nevada State Prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Additionally, a person who reasonably believes that they are being cyberstalked can petition a court to issue a temporary or extended restraining order prohibiting the accused from having any contact or communication with the alleged victim. Violating a temporary order barring contact will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, while violating an extended restraining order is a Category C felony. (NRS 200.591) Defendants who choose to go to trial for these charges may elect to have a jury trial or a bench trial.
There are defenses to Nevada cyberstalking charges that can be asserted by an experienced Nevada criminal defense attorney. If you have been charged with cyberstalking in Nevada, give us a call today so we can begin working on your defense.