How to Stop Criminal Internet Harrassment and Bullying.

Posted by Chris Morales on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 @ 10:52 AM

 internet harassment and bullyingHas your former boyfriend/girlfriend been posting threatening/libelous/scandalous comments about you on Facebook or Twitter. Has She/He been sending you or other people that you know emails with derogatory comments?  This is a developing area of the law but you do have some protection.

Sending harassing messages via electronic communications is a crime in California under California Penal Code section 646.9(a), punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.[1]  Furthermore, under California Civil Code section 1708.7(a), a person found liable for the tort of stalking via electronic communications will be liable for general damages, special damages, and punitive damages to the plaintiff(s).[2]   If you defame someone with libelous[3] and slanderous[4] statements pursuant to California Civil Code sections 45 and 46, and could therefore be liable to my clients for general, special, and exemplary damages under California Civil Code section 48a.[5] 
If someone knowingly impersonates another person on the internet for the purpose of threatening, harming, intimidating or defrauding another person you may be uilty of a crime with a sentence of up to one year in the county jail. [6]  Penal Code § 528.5(d) & (e).
If you or someone you love is being harassed via social networking websites or by e-mail, call Attorney Christopher Morales today to discuss your rights. 

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[1] Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison. Penal Code section 646.9(a).

[2] Under Civil Code section 1708.7(a), “a person is liable for the tort of stalking when the plaintiff proves all of the following elements of the tort: (1) The defendant engaged in a pattern of conduct the intent of which was to follow, alarm, or harass the plaintiff. In order to establish this element, the plaintiff shall be required to support his or her allegations with independent corroborating evidence. (2) As a result of that pattern of conduct, the plaintiff reasonably feared for his or her safety, or the safety of an immediate family member . . . (3) One of the following: (A) The defendant, as a part of the pattern of conduct specified in paragraph (1), made a credible threat with the intent to place the plaintiff in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of an immediate family member and, on at least one occasion, the plaintiff clearly and definitively demanded that the defendant cease and abate his or her pattern of conduct and the defendant persisted in his or her pattern of conduct. . . .”

 

[3] Libel is a false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation.  Civil Code section 45. 

[4] Slander is a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered, and also communications by radio or any mechanical or other means which: 1. Charges any person with crime, or with having been indicted, convicted, or punished for crime; 2. Imputes in him the present existence of an infectious, contagious, or loathsome disease; 3. Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in those respects which the office or other occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something with reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profits; 4. Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity; or 5. Which, by natural consequence, causes actual damage. Civil Code section 46.

 

[5] Under California Civil Code section 48a, "General damages" are damages for loss of reputation, shame, mortification and hurt feelings; "Special damages" are all damages which plaintiff alleges and proves that he has suffered in respect to his property, business, trade, profession or occupation, including such amounts of money as the plaintiff alleges and proves he has expended as a result of the alleged libel, and no other; and "Exemplary damages" are damages which may in the discretion of the court or jury be recovered in addition to general and special damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing a defendant who has made the publication or broadcast with actual malice.

 6] Under California law, it is a crime for a person to knowingly and without consent impersonate another actual person through or on an Internet Web site, such as a profile on Facebook, for the purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person. Penal Code section 528.5(a).

Tags: internet harrassment, facebook, threats, twitter